I've been praying for God to show me what direction our family is to go in now that we are home with our girls. Our lives were changed forever by their adoption into our family and our trip to Ethiopia, so I knew that our adoption was not the end of our story, but instead it was the beginning. I am so thankful for that journey as I feel that had we not answered the call to adopt, we may have missed the big picture. We may have gotten too busy or too distracted with "our" lives that we could have easily carried on without a thought about what is going on around the world and even in or own neighborhoods.
We were moving along just fine before the adoption. We went to church, we tithed, we taught our children bible stories and did our best to do the "right" things. But our standard was the world's and not the Lord's. By the world's standard or even by the church's standard, we were doing a pretty good job. Over the past few months, I've come to realize that I don't want to be a pretty good Christian. I want to be a great follower of Jesus.
So, as I've prayed for clarity, God led me to some good passages of scripture, to the blogs of Godly women full of wisdom, and to several books that have changed my perspective and are changing my priorities. One such blog is www.aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.com. Scroll down on the left side of her blog to read some amazing posts about "hearing God speak". She talks about the many ways that He speaks-through scripture, through interactions with others, through events that can only be orchestrated by him (read about how God answered our prayers and spoke in so many ways when were contemplating adopting the girls here).
I believe that he led me to the "Red Letters" book that I posted about. I'm now reading "Fields of the Fatherless" by the same author, Tom Davis. Reading these books, which are scripture based, has truly opened my eyes (further) to the struggles of the "least of these" and I am convinced that it is my job as a Christian to care for them "in their distress."
Nick and I had a conversation last night about priorities and the goals we have for our family. We want to make sure that we are pouring scripture and God's love into our children. To do this of course, we have to be taking in His word, meditating on it, applying it and living it out. We have also been discussing sponsoring an orphan or contributing to some type of orphan ministry as a means of continuing to care for them. Just last week we were reviewing our budget, looking ahead and realizing that we could have all of our debt payed off by early next year. We had both agreed that we'd love to sponsor an orphan, but by the end of the conversation, decided to "get everything in order" with our budget first. Well wouldn't you know that God wasn't willing to accept that.
I had decided to stay home with Colton this morning instead of going to church because he had been sick earlier in the week and I didn't want to put him in nursery and expose him to anything else. I got ready for church anyway this morning and decided to go ahead and go. Well of course the message was talking straight to us. Our pastor taught out of the book of Haggai. The message was about priorities and how everything we have is God's, yet we live our lives using up all that we want and then giving God what is left over. Then we say that following God is our priority, when our actions prove otherwise. He said that one way that we disobey God is to say, "I'll do that later", "I'll give when everything is in order", "I'll do that when I'm 40, 50, 60"...... We don't actually say "no", but we do "no" through our actions and over time, we miss it.
There will never be a time when generosity will be convenient or easy. So when God asks you to do something, it is your actions that show where your priorities lie.
So, Nick and I knew that although the budget didn't necessarily allow for us to sponsor a child "right now" (which probably means there is a problem with the budget, not the the funding), God had asked us to do that and we were to be obedient-RIGHT NOW. We chose to do this through Children's Hope Chest as they have an Ethiopia program and we feel that they are a reputable organization. I've also inquired with Wiphan-an organization that supports orphans and widows in Zambia, Africa. I requested to be a "cheer giver" to a widow. Basically, you sign up to write to and pray for a widow in Zambia-no cost involved, just a little time, prayers and words of encouragement. These two small steps are, I pray, the first of many for our family as we strive to live our lives with God as the priority. Remembering that, "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" James 1:27.
I love the words in this song. If our God is with us, what can stand in our way????