Tuesday, July 15, 2014

10%?

I'm about to talk about something that makes people really uncomfortable.

Money. 

Are you starting to wiggle in your seat???  Look, here's the deal... I know that money can be a very controversial topic, but stick with me for just a few minutes and I hope I can convince you that it's definitely not a conversation to be afraid of. 

When Nathan and I got married he surprised me by announcing on day one that we would be tithing 10% of our income. It wasn't that I disagreed, I just didn't know that it would be such a priority to him. Amazingly, tithe was not a topic that we had addressed in our six week pre-marital counseling class that we did THROUGH OUR CHURCH. Why not???  It seems like that should have been one of the prime topics, after all isn't money one of the most common sources of strife in a marriage?

So needless to say I was grateful that we were on the same page and agreed to make tithing a priority. And in the nearly fourteen years of our marriage it has always been that way. In times of want and in times of plenty... our first fruits have gone to the Lord. And can I tell you that we have never once found ourselves in a desperate situation where the Lord has not provided, mostly in very unique ways that prove that they could only be by His hand. 

Like the time that we had recently moved from an apartment to a condo in a better neighborhood so that Beau could have neighbors to play with, and in doing so had increased our rent by $900 a month.  We were a couple of months away from making our last preschool and car payments which would make it all work, but for those few months things were TIGHT.  Super tight.  Then one day I got a check in the mail from a surgery center where I had had surgery TWO YEARS EARLIER because our insurance had apparently paid more than they had expected.  The check was just enough to get us through.

Or like the time that we were drowning in credit card debt, most due to fertility bills, and after years of playing the 0% game {transferring balances from one credit card to the next to avoid interest} the economy had tanked and the offers that had once come daily were no longer available.  Our monthly payments were increasing to the point of insanity and I was losing sleep worrying about how we were going to make ends meet.  And then my father-in-law {who is not a believer but was nevertheless used by the Lord}, who had no idea what was happening other that that we had "some" debt, offered to loan us the money to pay it all off, which cut our monthly payments in half and allowed us to actually pay off the debt.

Or like the time that we were matched with Penelope on a Thursday and told that they were inducing her birthmom on Friday and we had four days to come up with $24,000.  And we had just closed escrow on our house and maxed ourselves out.  And then in one five-minute phone call to our bank on a Saturday morning we were approved for a $24,000 loan and told that we could have access to our funds on Monday morning.

Every time the Lord does something like this for us I am reminded that when we are faithful with our money, He will always provide.  It is like Lysa TerKeurst said, "What you put in the hands of Jesus you never lose."


I tell you all of this not to brag or pat ourselves on the back, but to encourage you that the Lord will provide for you too.

I was talking with my friend Robyn the other day and she was telling me that she heard a pastor say once that if you haven't been tithing, don't get hung up on 10%.  The Lord is more interested in the condition of our heart than our math skills.  He wants us to be generous givers, and that doesn't have to mean 10%.  For some people it's more, for some people it needs to start out as less.  Robyn said her pastor suggested to start with 1%.  1% isn't daunting.  Then the next year make it 2%.  Then 3%.  Once you are in the habit of giving and are seeing the Lord's provision... suddenly 10% isn't scary.

Is 10% too impossible for you???  JUST GIVE GENEROUSLY.

Do you have to give all 10% to your church?  JUST GIVE GENEROUSLY.

Is it 10% of your gross income or your net income???  JUST GIVE GENEROUSLY.

Recently I was introduced to the ministry of Ekubo.  Ekubo is run by my IG friend Christie Magera and her husband George.  They live in Uganda in pretty dire conditions by my standards, caring for their 14 children {2 bios, 12 adopted} and 21 foster children, running a school, a clinic, and a children's home.  They are stretched thin and live off of money that Christie spends everyday fundraising.  A few months ago they had an immediate need arise and Nathan and I felt called to help.  Before doing so we researched their ministry a bit to make sure we agreed with what they were doing.  And you know what we discovered??? They are doing the work of the Lord.  They are literally being the hands and feet of Jesus and ministering to the least of these.  Quite frankly, they are doing the work that this high-maintenance gal is grateful that I have not been called to do.  It's dirty.  It's scary.  It's hard.  And they are doing it with almost no monthly support.

Ekubo Children's Home is currently operating on monthly support of 6% of their monthly need.  And yet the Lord continues to meet their needs.  But friends... Christie is wearing thin.  She needs to focus on the great needs at hand, and not spend all her time fundraising. 

Nathan and I feel called to this ministry.  We believe in what they are doing.  We care about orphans and so do they.  So we have decided to support them monthly.

Maybe you feel a burden towards Africa and orphans and this ministry as well and you would like to help.  Christie did not ask me to do this, she didn't know I was doing it until I had to ask her for the code to her PayPal button, but I have been burdened for this ministry and I want to help.  So I am holding a good old-fashioned pledge drive right here on my little blog.

Ekubo Children's Home needs $5,000 a month to function otherwise they will have to start turning children away, or worse yet, close the home. Can you help me meet this need?

Is the Lord calling you to be generous with your giving???  Even just $5 a month would make a difference.

But maybe you could afford $10 a month???

$25?

Maybe the Lord is calling you to make a sacrifice and give $100 a month, and Ekubo ministers to your heart also?

Please pray about helping me meet this need.  If you are married, talk to your spouse about it.  Pray together.  Read Ekubo's website and follow their IG feed to get a better understanding of this amazing ministry.  And if you decide that this is a place that you would like to stretch your giving and test the Lord {because this is the one place that He tells us to test Him}, please click on the link below and then check the box that says "Make this Recurring (Monthly)" and commit to supporting this ministry in an ongoing way.{PLEASE NOTE: You will need to do it from a computer to get the monthly option.}

I will have Christie update me on the pledges and I will post a button in my sidebar updating the giving.  I would love to get their $5,000 monthly need met!  Wouldn't that be awesome to rally for the Lord and fill this need as a community???

Click here to pledge your support!
Support Ekubo Children's Home






I believe strongly that we all have burdens that the Lord places on our heart for specific purposes.  And we aren't all called to the same purposes, otherwise there would be no balance in our world.  So if African orphans are not the passion of your heart, then find a different place to give. Do not feel guilty if this is not the ministry you feel called to.  There are so many wonderful ministries out there and they all need supporters like you and me.  Find one that ministers the passion of your heart and give there. 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Meet the Nadalskys

It's time for another exchange, which means it's time for me to introduce you to the family that we will be helping.

Meet the Nadalskys:




Here is Rob and Michelle's story in Michelle's words:

My husband and I have been married for 3 years and started trying to grow our family roughly 6 months into our marriage. Right away, once we decided it was time to start trying, my body went from having the most predictable cycles to having absolutely no cycle. After waiting the required year, I went in to see my doctor and he referred me to a specialist and I was diagnosed with PCOS. We did 2 rounds of fertility treatments that did absolutely nothing- I still hadn't even ovulated before we had to move due to my husband's job. My husband is a church planter and amongst the stress of our infertility, God called us to Southern Utah to start a church from the ground up. After moving to Utah, I started seeing another specialist who also, even with fertility meds couldn't get my previously healthy body to start working again. After 6 months of fertility treatments and 1 giant cyst on top of the 60ish mini-cysts I had due to my PCOS, I finally ovulated and we got pregnant. We were over the moon excited and told the whole world, we even made and mailed shirts to everyone in our immediate families. One week later we found out we were going to lose that pregnancy and actually got the giant bill for all the fertility treatments as I was miscarrying. We waited 1 month and decided we wanted to try one more time. After going in for some more tests, we found out my husband is more than fertile, so we knew if we could just get my body to work we would get pregnant again...it was bound to stick around this time. We used the last of our savings for one last shot and got pregnant again, but this time around my numbers started so low they had us do an immediate follow up and soon learned that we would be losing this pregnancy as well. I was a mess and thought for sure there was something wrong with me. I had ovulated 2 times in the past 2 years with medical help, got pregnant both times but lost both pregnancies within the first 5 weeks of the pregnancy.

That day we were already planning to hang out with some of our wonderful friends, the Deans, who had adopted a little girl and whom had been my sounding board over the past year of fertility treatments and such. My husband and I both had decided while we were engaged that we were going to adopt at least one of our children, and God had been bringing this longing back up in my heart. I had mentioned adoption to my husband a couple of times, but he is much more methodical than my emotion led self. The morning after my last miscarriage my husband told me that he thought that it was time we looked into adoption and that this is where God was leading us to. I texted my friends, the Deans, told them on top of hanging out we wanted them to tell us everything they knew about adoption. That night we talked for hours and on the way home my husband and I both knew that we were supposed to adopt. Our doctor had told us that he wanted to do one more round of fertility meds and said if I miscarried again them he would do some testing to see what what wrong with me and why I was having recurrent miscarriages so soon after conceiving. We were completely broken-hearted and couldn't imagine losing a 3rd baby in just 5 months time. Instead of calling my doctor we called an agency (Emmy's amazing agency) and a social worker to schedule a home study.

We immediately began trying to rebuild our depleted savings from our fertility treatments along with the costs of two miscarriages. We finally saved up enough money for our home study and all the finger printing and back ground checks. As I was doing all the paperwork I felt an urgency in my heart to get all the work done as quickly as I could. Everyone told me not to rush, but I didn't feel rushed; I felt pulled to get it done. I decided that once the paperwork was done we would start fundraising and try to raise as much money as possible. We turned in our paperwork including our family profile within 3 months of our last miscarriage, the end of February, and then 1 week later we were told we were matched with a birth mom that was due in 1 month. I went from feeling accomplished that the adoption paperwork was completed and we could finally start bringing baby stuff slowly together and start our fundraising... to frantic that now we had $43,000 to raise in 1 month as well as buy everything a baby may possibly need. I prayed and freaked out and prayed some more and started trying to fundraise some type of money, apply for loans and quickly buy as much cheap baby stuff as I could that we would need right away.

The story of being matched with our birth mom and even agreeing to being shown to a birth mom that was so expensive is on my blog. I already am too wordy, but it was all God ordained to say the least. God had expressly told us no to another birth mom's profile, and then we read our birth mom's profile and knew, she was ours. We spent the week before our Jordan was born with our birth mom and birth dad, and God had even put the same name, Jordan, on all four of our hearts. We are still extremely close to our birth parents and love that God knew during both of my miscarriages that my baby was already conceived and was waiting for me to find him in God's plan. 




We managed to get loans to barely cover all of Jordan's costs as well as close to over extended our bank account the month he was born, but God always provided, just barely. We have been slow and steady in our fundraising and slowly saving money each month and are currently working on raising the last $25,000.

Sometimes a baby comes home long before the bills are paid, in God's amazing timing.  That is the Nadalsky's story.  I'm so excited to be able to help them pay back some of the loans that they owe... getting them one step closer to fully-funded!  

One change that I am making to the Adoption Fundraiser Exchanges is that from here on out each exchange will support one family AND the Choose Joy Conference.  The funds will be split 50/50.  One exchange... two causes... win-win.

If you are interested in helping the Nadalskys and supporting Choose Joy, click here to sign up for the Summer Garland Exchange.  The sign-ups will be open until Friday, May 30th, so go sign up now! Don't delay!

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.