Sunday, May 10, 2015

{Guest Post}

     A while ago, I had made an offhand comment about eventually wanting to have some guest posts on our blog. I have seen it done on other blogs I follow, but I didn't exactly know how to go about it or who might even be interested in writing something for this little ole blog. But God heard this small dream, and during a particularly rough week, He prompted a friend to email me this "guest post."  My prayer is that you will read this and think of a way you can impact someone else's the way these friends have impacted ours'.

A Call to Arms
     Life is difficult sometimes, full of obstacles getting in our way, keeping us from our goals, and making everything harder than it needs to be. In the face of all this discouragement, sometimes we just need someone to step up and be an advocate for us. To advocate on our behalf. To be our fan and cheer us on. We need people who see our needs, our obstacles, our discouragements, and then do something about them.

     James 2 says, "Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, 'Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well'—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?" Exactly. What good does it do? We all have friends going through something difficult. Instead of just feeling empathy for the person, we need to do something about it. Maybe they need encouragement in the form of a card or email, or maybe they need you to help solve the problem. Sometimes our friends need our involvement more than our well-wishes.

     In the era of Facebook and social media, people throw around the word "friend" a lot. It is easy to simply call someone a friend. It is far better to invest yourself in the lives of the people you love, and they will know you are their friend. Nothing beats the feeling of knowing that someone cares about you, someone wants the best for you, and someone is in your corner cheering you on. Nothing feels better than having a fan, an advocate, a friend.

     Galatians 6:2 tells us, "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." That's our job as Christians, and that's our privilege as friends. We have the ability to lighten the load for our friends. We have the ability to brighten someone's day with laughter. We have the ability to encourage with a kind word. We have the ability to serve others when they could use a hand. We have the incredible ability to change the lives of the people around us. Everyday we have the choice to either make someone's day a little better, or do nothing.

     So what does all this have to do with the Murrays and adoption? Well, I've noted with bewilderment that the adoption process is seemingly designed to be as difficult, discouraging, and expensive as possible. As we heard about the paperwork, the cost, the home study, the character references, the psych evaluations, and all of the other hoops that have to be jumped through, frankly, we were discouraged and it wasn't even us adopting. Adoption on top of life's usual pressures can be very daunting.

     My wife and I are big Murray fans, so we wanted to be friends to Eric and Lindsay not only in name, but in tangible ways that let them know we love them and support them. Feeling affection for someone is fine, but at some point you need to act on that affection for it to mean anything. Maybe we haven't done enough, and maybe we selfishly get distracted with our own lives too often, but we have been trying to put our love into action. It has been so fulfilling these last six months watching God work as Eric and Lindsay move through the adoption process. It has been awesome to be excited with them as they check items off their list, to be happy for them when things are going well, and to share the disappointment when they aren't. To actually care about their lives, that's what being a friend is all about. Being invested.

     Adoption is a chance for all of us to rally around our friends. I don't think that Eric and Lindsay's situation is unique. Everyone has seasons of stress in life, but I'm guessing that anyone going through adoption can probably use an extra dose of support and encouragement from friends. We can help make a tedious, discouraging process into a wonderful story of God's provision, hope, and friendship that will someday be a part of a child's story.

     There's a ton of stories to be told, and we all have the opportunity to at least be a footnote in one of them. So go be a friend to someone. I was going to say "go be a friend to someone who needs it", but who doesn't need it?

Friday, May 1, 2015

Ephesians 3:20...Part 3

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his might power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20

     So a "Part 3" seemed like a good way to dust off the cobwebs from this little old blog. Quite frankly, there has been neither time nor energy to do much aside from putting one foot in front of the other as of late. Oh and we don't have the internet yet. But that's a different story.

     My "Part 2" was a slight cliffhanger with the exciting news and HUGE answer to prayer that we had sold our home and were looking to move. And like any story, there were lots of details in between the beginning, middle, and end of our whole "moving" saga. All of these details aren't appropriate for the big wide world, but I can say that lots of these details were worked out- and in a good way. Things were obviously stressful. But we did it! We MOVED! And things are STILL stressful as we live among boxes and other miscellaneous items that somehow "made the cut" from one house to the other. I joke with Eric that all of the "treasure" in our garage could probably be put into a dumpster and I wouldn't be sad. Ha! Sometimes emotions make you say silly things. I know anyone that has ever moved is shouting out a big ole AMEN right now. 

     It's been a week since we've been sleeping in our new abode...and we feel so blessed and grateful to be home. We're especially excited that our home study can move forward! We still have some paper-chasing to do, but some of those things involve the physical being of our "home"...what it looks like in the front and in the back...what our son or daughter's room looks like...what the main living areas look like, etc. Pictures will still have to wait a little while yet, as I'm not sure piles of boxes will be looked upon favorably. But we know there is no gray area with selling our house or moving anymore. And we definitely won't have to spend extra money on updating our home study now because we have a forever HOME!

     We also couldn't set up home visits until things were more cemented with our living arrangements. Would South Korea allow us to adopt if we were living in the basement of Grandma's house? We just didn't know if that'd be allowed. HA! All jokes aside, we did live with Grandma for a few days during the transition time of moving (read: we moved some stuff, but not enough to live at either the old or new residence) and it was such a blessing. If you live near parents and have children, again...AMEN. Grandparents (and parents) can be such a huge help. 

     Our new "neighborhood" is turning out to be a wonderful atmosphere for our family. Our son spends his "after-school" hours shooting at his (new to him) basketball hoop...our daughter loves to ride her bike and fly kites...and I love seeing them enjoy the outdoors! We've been super blessed already with a sweet couple who owns farmland that is on two sides of our house as well as a mini-golf course that we can see from our back window. Our kids are in heaven. Yesterday, we came home and the sweet couple was mowing and weeding our lawn. *We have more grass than at our old house and will have to invest in a different mower.* Then, they took the kids for a golf cart ride to let them play a few holes at their mini-golf course. Eric and I tried our hand at it too. Our youngest golfer made it out with 2 hole-in-one shots. I'd say there will be some stiff competition this summer!

     Some days are definitely harder than others to find the joy in each moment. But even in all of the stress, I need to remember to slow down and thank God for all of the ways in which He has worked in our lives over the last year. Sometimes, it's difficult not to focus on the here and now when the here and now is stressful. But you always hear the words of wisdom to look at the "bigger" picture. And when I look back at where we started and where the Lord has led's been a beautiful journey. I didn't say an easy journey...but  a beautiful journey...with many ups and many downs...a journey with growth, heartache, and blessing. He truly has given us peace in a lot of situations and has accomplished infinitely more than we could have asked or thought.