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Monday, March 10, 2014

For or Against

You know those people. I know those people. I used to be those people. 

The kind of people that have strong opinions and speak loudly. 

Have you seen the miniseries The Bible that was produced by Mark Burnett and his wife Roma Downey?  We watched it when it was first on television, but we have been watching it again with our small group. 

I wish I could say that I have read the whole bible, but as many times as I have started through a one year read... I have never finished. Nathan on the other hand, has read through it several times. And he's super smart. So as we have watched the miniseries, we have paused and discussed some parts, talking about how that part of the story was portrayed or going back to the scriptures to verify what we have seen. All in all, I would say that they did an excellent job of telling the most important story in history in an eight hour miniseries. 

We did find small discrepancies. For example, when Jesus walked on water.  In the bible we are told that when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water they thought it was a ghost, but He said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” And then Peter asked him “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” In the miniseries Jesus sees that the disciples are scared and calls out to Peter to come walk on the water, without Peter saying anything. 

So while this is not technically a 100% accurate portrayal of this story, it doesn't change the story. It doesn't change the gospel. It doesn't change the truth of who God is. 

Last week, one of the members of our small group found an article about the miniseries and forwarded it to the rest of us because he thought it was an interesting talking point. As a disclaimer, I did not read the entire article. It was long and wordy, and I could quickly see that the author had a very strong opinion and agenda of discrediting the miniseries by discrediting the Burnetts. 

She attacked their character, she called them "false teachers" and "fake Christians" and had the gall to say "they are NOT real Christians."  {A judgement reserved for the Lord.} She also accused Rick Warren and Saddleback Church {who have been very supportive of the Burnetts work} of being New Age. I live very close to Saddleback Church, I have been to events there, and I have several close friends that attend there regularly. I have never seen anything but authentic Christianity coming from that church. 

This article really bugged me. Not because I thought she was incorrect. Not because I am a big fan of the Burnetts. Because I feel like this is the problem with the church today: we are too busy judging each other and we have forgotten that one of the last things Jesus did on earth was to pray for the unity of believers. “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you... I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are oneI in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." {John 17:20-23}

The "church" has become many churches with countless denominations and sects, some of which still serve and worship the God of the bible, and some that have reinvented the bible to serve themselves. There is only one truth and the truth is important, but a lot of the issues that Christians spend their time arguing about are not salvation issues. They are not things that change the gospel. And it makes me sad when Christians would rather be right than be love. 

A few days after perusing this article about The Bible my pastor said something that I have heard him say many times before. He said:


And it struck me what was really bothering me about this article: this woman is busy trying to be known for what she is against. She is being divisive. 

This miniseries has brought a lot of attention to the bible. It has brought a lot of attention to Christ and the gospel. And that is a good thing in my opinion. 

And maybe, just maybe the Burnetts are off track on some of their beliefs. I don't know, because I don't know them. And I would certainly NEVER claim to know their hearts. But I do know that they are being used by the Lord to shed light into the darkness. 

I want to be known for what I am for. And I am for the bible, Christ, love and truth. 


Friday, March 07, 2014

Just Adopt

When you go through infertility well meaning people will say to you, "Why don't you just adopt?" 

Just adopt?  Ha!  Spoken from the lips of people who have absolutely no clue what adoption actually looks like. 

Despite what Brad, Angelina & Madonna may have you thinking {and honestly, just because it looked like they got their children at the snap of a finger, I imagine they actually jumped through more hoops than we know} adoption is anything but a simple process. 

Recently I have had several friends go through difficult, gut-wrenching, heart-breaking experiences on their adoption journies. Three of my friends lost babies that they thought were going to be theirs.  One of those friends had held and loved and poured into that baby for two weeks. And now she will most likely never see that baby again. 

When you adopt a baby there are home studies, and fingerprints, and family profiles, and trainings, and DMV records, and paperwork, and social workers, and referrals, and matches, and expenses - lots and lots of expenses, and waiting, and waiting, and waiting. And it's exciting, and scary, and wonderful, and awful, and a roller coaster not unlike infertility. 

So while I believe that adoption is an amazing option for people having difficulty conceiving {and if I'm honest... I actually think it is the best option}, please don't patronize your infertile friends by suggesting that they just adopt. 

Instead, hold their hands, tell them that their situation sucks {because it does, and it's nice when people recognize that}, and offer to stand by them should they decide to pursue adoption. Because they will need you. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

So... Handmade it Is!

Okay, so I guess I was incredibly wrong when I assumed that you all would like a break from the handmade exchanges.  I had the lowest number of sign-ups that I have ever had for the Magazine Exchange.  And because I really am passionate about the Choose Joy Raffle Fund, I decided to add a second exchange for this fundraiser.

Introducing the Letters & Numbers Exchange.

Just as a reminder and in case you didn't read the post about the Magazine Exchange, we are raising money for the Choose Joy Raffle Fund. 

What that means is that we don't know exactly who the recipient will be yet.  Here's why: the recipient will be one of the attendees of the Choose Joy Conference.  If you are not familiar with Choose Joy, it is a one day, faith-based conference in Southern California for people struggling with infertility and/or desiring to grow their family through adoption.  The best part is that at the end of the day we raffle off a huge mason jar {and I mean HUGE} full of cash for one lucky attendee to use towards growing their family.

It was my favorite moment of the day last year.


You have to hear the winner Kristi's story:

I am choosing Joy.

Yesterday I went to an AMAZING event hosted by Emmy Blakely called Choose Joy. The event was about surviving infertility and adoption. When a friend of mine told me about the event, I was excited because finally, there was a conference acknowledging a very sensitive and often shamed subject. But of course when I woke up yesterday and started to get ready, my anxiety kicked in as anyone who knows me knows that I don't like big social events and I don't like talking about my feelings to complete strangers. Hoping Stephanie would call me saying she was sick, I delayed getting ready but it was now time to suck it up and head to O.C.

When I got there I kept to myself and tried to take everything and everyone in. As I looked around the walls slowly started to come down as I realized that every single man and woman in here was on the same journey as me. Sure, our locations on this road were in different places but there was a sense of "we are in it together". As the speakers shared their stories, my hardened heart began to break and messy tears rolled down my face. I started to pray for these women, that they would get through whatever hurt they were going through and that they would come out of isolation. It was safe for me to pray and think about everyone else because talking about my story or telling people I was hurt was too hard and quite frankly no ones business.

As the day rolled on my friend told me they were selling tickets for a cash prize that was to go to any medical treatments or adoption fees. I found the ticket lady and faithfully spent the last of my $25.00 allowance on 5 tickets. I thought "how cool is it going to be for someone to win this money." I know how expensive this journey can be and any financial break is a HUGE blessing.

It soon came time for the raffle and as everyone pulled out their tickets, I told my friend "I am not going to look at my tickets until they read the winning number a second time. I won't win because things like this don't happen to me." As they read the numbers I started to pray for the winner and for that jar of cash, that it would bring peace and comfort to the couple that received. The numbers were called and no one jumped up, I then peaked at my ticket and then looked at my friend and said "I think I won!" I then screamed "Oh my gosh, I think its me." With cheers and laughter I walked up to the stage and asked the people to double check my ticket because surely there had to have been a mistake. But their wasn't.

As I received my prize and looked at all the faces I had grown to love that day, I started to cry in disbelief and shock.

As the night ended and I walked to my car, put the jar with the glittery gold top in my back seat I just sat and cried. Then I felt Jesus telling me, "Kristi, I AM HERE. I know your heart, your hurt, confusion and your loneliness, and your fears."

As I drove home, I decided not to call Matthew as I needed to take it all in myself.

When I pulled into the drive way and into the house, Matthew asked me how it went. I started to cry and handed him the jar. "I won this for our adoption" Also in disbelief and shock, he started to tear up. When I told him how much I won the tears over flowed. "Kristi, this is the EXACT amount we needed to reach our adoption fund goal." We just sat there and stared in amazement. And then it dawned on us. OF COURSE OUR GOD KNOWS US. How is there not a God who orchestrated the entire event that I would find the ticket lady at the right time and buy a set of tickets which included the winning numbers? How is there not a God who put it on complete strangers hearts to donate to a fund that was the EXACT amount we needed for our adoption?

I still can't believe that Jesus chose to bless me, the one who kicked and screamed into the doors and who guarded my heart because it was the safe thing to do. But of course he did, his love and grace is unconditional. I am forever grateful for Jesus and Emmy for putting on an event that changed my heart and my life forever.
XO


Are you crying now, because I am even though I know this story and have read it many times.  It's one of my faves.  And you wanna know the best part?  Kristi will be at this year's Choose Joy... as a speaker!  Sharing her story with a new group of hurting women.

If you participate in this exchange, you will be a part of the next Kristi's story.  How cool is that???

Last year the pot was over $2700!!!  That is a huge number.  But I know we can do better this year.  Will you help me make it better?

Sign-ups for the Letters & Numbers Exchange are now open.  Click here for more details and to register.  Once again, there will be a minimum $5 donation to join, all of which will go to some special person that God is orchestrating to be at Choose Joy to win this auction to grow their family.

Spread the word... let's make it another amazing story of God's glorious provision!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

It's that Time Again

Okay friends... it's time for the next @theadoptswap Exchange!

This one is going to be a little bit different for two reasons:

1. THIS IS NOT A CRAFTY EXCHANGE

& 2. I DON'T KNOW WHO THE RECIPIENTS WILL BE

Let me explain.  First of the the exchange part.  I really wanted this exchange to be one that absolutely ANYONE could participate in, so this time we are exchanging something that you can purchase for just a few dollars, you can find anywhere, and will be inexpensive to mail:

it's the...


I love magazines!  I love to read, but in this season of my life I don't get that luxury.  When I get into a good book I. cannot. put. it. down.  I ignore anything and everything around me and read, read, read until I am finished.  That doesn't go over well when there are babies to be fed, diapers to be changed, and people who actually want clean clothes to wear.  So for now, magazines have to do.

I love buying a new magazine!  I totally have a ritual with them:

First, I flip through the entire magazine looking at the pictures and removing any annoying subscription cards or perfume samples... gotta get those things out of the way.    

Then I go back and read the parts that looked interesting enough to read and skim the rest.

Then I go back again and pull out anything that is worth saving... decorating inspiration, clever products, a good recipe... you get the idea.

Then I pass it off to someone else.  I am not a hoarder.  I hate unnecessary clutter.

So for this exchange you will purchase a fabulous magazine and pass it on to your partner.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  And hopefully it will be one your partner has never seen before, and now they will have a new favorite magazine!

SIDE NOTE: When you sign up for the exchange, you will list any magazines that you have a subscription to so that your partner will be sure to get you something new.

I encourage you to try to find something fun and maybe a little obscure. There are SO MANY magazines out there {have you been to Barnes & Noble lately???}, and I am always finding new ones that excite me.  It doesn't have to be a magazine that you already know... it could be a NEW favorite for you too!

Now for part 2 of what makes this exchange different: we don't know exactly who the recipient will be yet.  Here's why: the recipient will be one of the attendees of the Choose Joy Conference.  If you are not familiar with Choose Joy, it is a one day, faith-based conference in Southern California for people struggling with infertility and/or desiring to grow their family through adoption.  The best part is that at the end of the day we raffle off a huge mason jar {and I mean HUGE} full of cash for one lucky attendee to use towards growing their family.

It was my favorite moment of the day last year.


You have to hear the winner Kristi's story:

I am choosing Joy.

Yesterday I went to an AMAZING event hosted by Emmy Blakely called Choose Joy. The event was about surviving infertility and adoption. When a friend of mine told me about the event, I was excited because finally, there was a conference acknowledging a very sensitive and often shamed subject. But of course when I woke up yesterday and started to get ready, my anxiety kicked in as anyone who knows me knows that I don't like big social events and I don't like talking about my feelings to complete strangers. Hoping Stephanie would call me saying she was sick, I delayed getting ready but it was now time to suck it up and head to O.C.

When I got there I kept to myself and tried to take everything and everyone in. As I looked around the walls slowly started to come down as I realized that every single man and woman in here was on the same journey as me. Sure, our locations on this road were in different places but there was a sense of "we are in it together". As the speakers shared their stories, my hardened heart began to break and messy tears rolled down my face. I started to pray for these women, that they would get through whatever hurt they were going through and that they would come out of isolation. It was safe for me to pray and think about everyone else because talking about my story or telling people I was hurt was too hard and quite frankly no ones business.

As the day rolled on my friend told me they were selling tickets for a cash prize that was to go to any medical treatments or adoption fees. I found the ticket lady and faithfully spent the last of my $25.00 allowance on 5 tickets. I thought "how cool is it going to be for someone to win this money." I know how expensive this journey can be and any financial break is a HUGE blessing.

It soon came time for the raffle and as everyone pulled out their tickets, I told my friend "I am not going to look at my tickets until they read the winning number a second time. I won't win because things like this don't happen to me." As they read the numbers I started to pray for the winner and for that jar of cash, that it would bring peace and comfort to the couple that received. The numbers were called and no one jumped up, I then peaked at my ticket and then looked at my friend and said "I think I won!" I then screamed "Oh my gosh, I think its me." With cheers and laughter I walked up to the stage and asked the people to double check my ticket because surely there had to have been a mistake. But their wasn't.

As I received my prize and looked at all the faces I had grown to love that day, I started to cry in disbelief and shock.

As the night ended and I walked to my car, put the jar with the glittery gold top in my back seat I just sat and cried. Then I felt Jesus telling me, "Kristi, I AM HERE. I know your heart, your hurt, confusion and your loneliness, and your fears."

As I drove home, I decided not to call Matthew as I needed to take it all in myself.

When I pulled into the drive way and into the house, Matthew asked me how it went. I started to cry and handed him the jar. "I won this for our adoption" Also in disbelief and shock, he started to tear up. When I told him how much I won the tears over flowed. "Kristi, this is the EXACT amount we needed to reach our adoption fund goal." We just sat there and stared in amazement. And then it dawned on us. OF COURSE OUR GOD KNOWS US. How is there not a God who orchestrated the entire event that I would find the ticket lady at the right time and buy a set of tickets which included the winning numbers? How is there not a God who put it on complete strangers hearts to donate to a fund that was the EXACT amount we needed for our adoption?

I still can't believe that Jesus chose to bless me, the one who kicked and screamed into the doors and who guarded my heart because it was the safe thing to do. But of course he did, his love and grace is unconditional. I am forever grateful for Jesus and Emmy for putting on an event that changed my heart and my life forever.
XO


Are you crying now, because I am even though I know this story and have read it many times.  It's one of my faves.  And you wanna know the best part?  Kristi will be at this year's Choose Joy... as a speaker!  Sharing her story with a new group of hurting women.

If you participate in this exchange, you will be a part of the next Kristi's story.  How cool is that??? 

Last year the pot was over $2700!!!  That is a huge number.  But I know we can do better this year.  Will you help me make it better?

Sign-ups for the Favorite Things Exchange: Magazine Edition will start this Saturday right here on my blog.  Once again, there will be a minimum $5 donation to join, all of which will go to some special person that God is orchestrating to be at Choose Joy to win this auction to grow their family. 

Spread the word... let's make it another amazing story of God's glorious provision!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Sometimes I Suck

Do any of you have that person in your life that you should be an example to, but somehow they always seem to see the ugliest side of you?

There is a young woman in my life that I feel this way about. 

I have known her family my whole life. And a few years ago she came into my daily life. She became like a little sister to me, and I was enjoying pouring into her life. 

But then something happened. We had a falling out. And while we both had some responsibility in what happened, the truth is that the WAY it happened was my fault. I let things fester, and then in a moment of very intense stress I took it all out on her and threw a year's worth of frustration in her face. 

I was the older one. I should have been able to handle it better. And I didn't. I failed. And I went from seeing her often to not seeing her much at all. 

And while things have been fine between us, it has never been the same. I blew it for being a person she looked up to. 

And then last week I blew it again. 

I made a comment on Instagram in a moment of frustration {there is clearly a pattern there, I should really learn to shut my mouth in times of frustration} that threw her under the bus. And I really didn't mean to, but in looking back at it, it totally did. 

And she, the much younger {supposedly much less mature} woman wrote me a very nice, very mature email calling me out. 

And all I could think was... dang it!  I suck. 

So why is it that sometimes with the relationships that matter most, we fail most?  

I feel like this friend has seen my ugliest character traits. And when I think about what she must think of me... it's not good. And it makes me feel like all the people who think I'm great are wrong, and she, who knows the "real" me, must think I'm such a fony baloney. 

But you know what that is?  It's Satan trying to tell me that I'm not good enough. Because {as my pastor always says} the only thing that is true about me is what God says is true. 

So what does God say is true about me?

I am a sinner in need of a Savior. 
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" Romans 3:23

I am called to love. 
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Nothing I can do will change the way God feels about me. 
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God" Ephesians 2:8

So how does all this apply to the situation with my friend?  The truth is that we all fall short of being who God wants us to be. But He loves us anyway. And that's how we are called to treat others. To love them anyway, despite the fact that they fall short of our expectations. 

And so here's what I can do:
Ask for her forgiveness. 
Pray that she is willing to give it. 
But know that even if she doesn't, I am still called to love her and be an example to her. 

So I will just keep trying to do better and be more Christ-like the next time. 

And you know what I find {because unfortunately this isn't the first time I have been in the situation of letting someone down}, when you humble yourself, admit your mistakes, and ask for forgiveness... it is usually given. But even if it's not, you have just won victory over Satan who would like your guilt to fester inside of you and perpetuate the ugly. 

This morning I am praying that my friend will forgive me, that God will give her the ability to see past my ugliness and have a renewed love for me that is unhuman {I know that's not really a word, but it's the most accurate way to say it... being able to forgive others who hurt us really is not a human trait}, and that she will allow me to try again to be better at being her friend.  

Is there someone from whom you need to ask forgiveness?  Does someone in your life need you to forgive them {even if they haven't asked you to}?  Do it today.  Don't let it fester.  Don't let Satan continue to claim victory.  Let others know that you are His disciple by the way you love.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Speaking Love over Truth

I got a very interesting private message on Instagram last week. It was from someone that I don't know personally. And it was sent to a group of women, most of whom are very influential people. I was honored to be included in that group of women, so I was extra intrigued as to what the subject of the message would be.

I read it, and then I said out loud to my husband, "I just got schooled."  

The subject was pro-life advocacy. And the sender of the message was basically challenging those of us that she felt had a voice of influence on this topic as to why we had not been promoting the pro-life movement that week: a week that included Pro-Life Sunday, the March for Life, and the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade. 

It felt a little bizarre for someone that I don't have a personal relationship with to be telling me that I should take a stance on such a controversial topic. Not because I'm afraid to take a stance. I am pro-life without apology. I can't really imagine an adoption advocate not being pro-life. But because there could be a million reasons {including that I may have just had a rough week... which I did} as to why I wouldn't have posted something on this subject matter, and without knowing me this girl just assumed that I didn't care enough about the issue. 

I thought about her message and this issue a lot, and these are the conclusions I have come to:

1. There are a lot of noble and important platforms to be addressed in this world, but not everyone is called to address every platform. 

I may have strong opinions about a lot of things: the right to life, universal healthcare, public education, providing infrastructure to third world countries... but currently God has called me to one public platform: infertility and adoption advocacy. That is where I have been called to speak up. That is where he has asked me to use my voice, my time, and my talents. It doesn't mean that I don't care enough about any of the other issues, I just care about them more privately. 

2. "Knowing" someone on social media is not the same as knowing them in real life. 

Don't get me wrong. I love social media. I love my friends that I have met through social media. Many of them have become my real life friends, but only through connection, interaction, exchanging phone numbers, and talking and meeting in REAL LIFE.  On Instagram you see a snippet of someone's life, and while I work very hard to be authentic and genuine on social media, it's still just a snippet of me. I would hope that you would not make strong conclusions about myself or my life based on what you see in my Instagram feed. 

3. {And most importantly} Social media is not the proper forum for affecting change on controversial social topics.  

I don't believe that me posting an Instagram message about protecting life is going to make a woman that was considering abortion change her mind. It's just not. That kind of change requires personal relationship. In my opinion, people are not going to stop being gay, cancel an abortion, or decide to vaccinate their children because of something that they see on an Instagram post. 

You are more likely to alienate people, cause defenses to go up, and just generally tick people off than to change their stance on a hot topic. 

You know how real change happens?  By having relationships. And the most life-changing relationship possible is the one that you can have with your Savior. 

So if we want to affect REAL, LASTING change on any topic, the best place to start is to encourage a relationship with Christ. And the best way to do that is to first of all have a good relationship with your Christ yourself. The more we know about Christ, the more we will want to be like Him. And the more Christ-like we become, the more loving and less judgmental we become. 

I do believe that there is one truth, one God, and one road to salvation. But I also believe that showing love is the best way to reveal truth. 

If you want to be a magnetic, influential person, show love.
Extend grace.
Have compassion.
Love the hurting.
Give to the needy.
Be authentic. 

Christ came into this world to love, He didn't come here to judge. He hung out with the misfits... the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the lepers... he showed them love and that changed their lives. You know who are the only people that Christ showed judgment on?  The religious leaders. The hypocrites. The ones who wore the scriptures on their heads, but didn't live them out. 

I DON'T want to be a person that is known for being pro-life, or anti-Obama, or pro-public education... I want to be a person that is known for showing love. I want to be passionate about showing others the unconditional love that Christ shows us everyday. I want people to see me and find grace. 

So if you don't see me taking a big stand on something that you would expect me to be passionate about, know that it is not due to lack of passion. It is due to a stronger desire to love. 

*UPDATE* I wanted to clarify that the gal that sent me the message on IG almost immediately apologized for sending that message to people she didn't know and possibly sounding harsh or pushy. And I did not mean for this post to sound like an admonishment of her. We actually had a lovely discussion that was done in love and grace, and that I very much enjoyed. These were just the thoughts that I took away from the conversation that she sparked. 

Friday, January 10, 2014

A LITTLE Giveaway

I know I have lots of followers that have walked the road of infertility and/or are growing their families through adoption, so I'm hoping that you will all go check out the Choose Joy Conference. This is a one-day conference that I started last year to minister to those surviving infertility and adoption.

This year's conference is Saturday, May 3rd in Laguna Hills, CA. Too far for you???  Well then let me tell you about something else: RIGHT NOW we are giving away an all-expense paid trip to Choose Joy from anywhere in the Contiguous US!!!



So head over to the Choose Joy website, check out the conference and enter to win.