Sunday, June 14, 2009

Okay. Reading the following is not for the faint of heart. If you are a Christian who thinks that God's plan for your life is to live in a big comfy house in a safe neighborhood, stop reading right now. The following is copied from the blog of a family who has 3 bio kids, 3 adopted siblings from Ethiopia, and is leaving in a few weeks to go to Ethiopia to pick up 3 MORE siblings to add to their family. The husband and wife are both teachers- not exactly living the high life even w/ just the 3 bio kids- and now they will have 9 kids!!! BUT... this lady knows what it is all about. So like I said: if you think that God's plan for your life is health and wealth while your neighbor lives in poverty, DO NOT read on!!! But if you have the courage, if you take God seriously... read on.

Friday, June 5, 2009
I wish I could tell you...
that the sacrificial life of following after Jesus and being His actual hands and feet on this Planet Earth would bring rewards on this planet. But I can't. Because it probably won't.

I wish I could tell you that if you take in an orphan and love that child as your own flesh and blood, that you will be blessed in this life in more ways than just spiritual. But I can't. Because you might not be.

I wish I could tell you that it's easy to adopt. That it's effortless and glamorous and always beautiful. But I can't. Because it isn't.

I wish I could tell you that it's easy after you adopt. But I can't. Because it's tougher than tough some days.

I wish I could tell you that this life of sacrifice is painless and prosperous. But I can't. Because it's often painful and rarely prosperous in the earthly.

I wish I could tell you all of those warm and comforting platitudes, but I can't. Because they're not true.

What I CAN tell you, though, is that this life is not your own. So none of the above matter anyway.

When I stepped off of the cliff in full recognition of that reality, I have had no control over my life since. Yes, I have choices. I realize that I chose this road. I said yes to this calling. I agreed to take in 6 kids that I did not have to call my own. But once I said yes the first time, I could never say no after. Once I took Jesus seriously, Jesus took me seriously. I was wrecked for Him and for this life and could never tell Him no. Never again. If I say no to a child who needs me, I'm saying no to the Child Jesus. If I say no to an abandoned baby who needs me, I'm saying no to Baby Jesus. If I say no to a sibling group who needs a family, I'm saying no to Jesus and his brothers and sisters. Think I'm exaggerating?
Matthew 25:44-46 (The Message)
44"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'

45"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

46"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."

I mean, it doesn't get more blatant than that. But alas there it is for us so-called Jesus followers.

And, here's a little warning: Once you utter that initial walking-off-the-cliff YES to Him, it doesn't get any easier. In fact, it gets more painful and far more difficult. Saying YES the first time was the easy part for us, even though that certainly was not easy. Because--the fact is--every single day I see the reality of my choice to say YES to Jesus in need. I see the white picket fences, the new cars, the private schools, the suburban "dream," the picture perfect families. I see that. I know what I'm saying no to. I am fully aware that I had a choice to embrace "that" life, but that I chose to embrace His instead.

It's often painful. Usually not easy. Typically lonely. Generally overwhelming. But I know that this life is not my own. The reward for me is most likely not on this planet. In fact, it most certainly isn't. Most probably I will never live in a fat house (by American standards) and drive a fancy car and have any spare cash to sit on. I realize that. I know that. And I also know that I could have sought those things for myself and could have had them. I absolutely know that that life is within my reach. Every time I encounter someone who has embraced fulfillment in the temporary, I am reminded like a big banner (or a slap in the face) that I chose this road instead. And every time I am reminded, I hear God asking me (practically audibly sometimes), "So, you still want to follow the narrow road?" [YES, Lord. Here am I. Send me.]

Loving the fatherless. Loving the abandoned. Loving the seemingly hopeless. The narrow road requires sacrifice.The narrow road. It's lonely. It's long. It's difficult. It's full of suffering and struggle and sacrifice. But isn't that what following our Jesus is all about? If you're following a Jesus that doesn't demand sacrifice of all earthly endeavors, than I don't know what Jesus you're following. Didn't Jesus, after all, sacrifice all earthly endeavors for us? What did He sacrifice so that He could love YOU? How much more, then, should we sacrifice in order to love Him? And if loving HIM means loving the unlovely and the unloved, then what does it mean if we live in comfort while the unloved go on unloved? While the orphaned stay orphaned? While the street kids still roam the streets?

I don't know how we can really claim to love Jesus if we don't love Jesus the Street Child. If we don't love Jesus the Orphan. Jesus the Prostitute. Jesus the Abandoned.

But what does it mean to LOVE Jesus the Orphan? What does it mean to love Jesus the Abandoned? It means that you do for Jesus the Orphan what you would want done to your own child.

Matthew 7:12 (New International Version)
12So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

In a world that seems so complicated and chaotic, it really is as simple as that. It's what led me to see my own children in the faces of Ethiopia's orphans in the first place. It's what led me to say yes to children who simply needed a family. Who needed me. Who needed someone to see Jesus the Orphan in them.

Matthew 16:23-25 (The Message)
23But Jesus didn't swerve. "Peter, get out of my way. Satan, get lost. You have no idea how God works."

24-26Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Matthew 16:23-25 (New International Version)
23Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

24Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Where is your cross? What is your suffering? Go seek out Jesus the Orphan. You'll find your cross and suffering there. And there you will finally find Jesus. The One you did not see before and the One you did not know to love.

And then and only then, Great Will Be Your Reward. I can't count on much, but I can count on that.

Luke 6:34-36 (New International Version)
34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons and daughters of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:34-36 (The Message)
31-34"Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that's charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

35-36"I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You'll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we're at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind.

I know my family is not the so-called American Dream. I know that having 9 kids is certainly not the goal for most sane and ordinary people. I know that having a multi-racial family can really mar some people's plans for a supposedly picture-perfect family. But so what? This life is not your own. Don't live a lie believing that it is. Whose plans are those, anyway, for the picture-perfect home? the picture-perfect family? the American dream? I don't remember Jesus standing on the mountainside preaching in favor of any of those, so whatever you do, make sure your plans aren't just that...YOUR plans.

My life is not my own. And if you claim to follow Jesus, your life is not yours, either.
Galatians 2:20 (New International Version)
20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Go. Leave behind the life you planned. SEEK OUT the orphan. Don't ask God one more time if He wants you to adopt. Because...HE'S been asking YOU, who WILL?

1 John 3:17 (The Message)
16-17This is how we've come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God's love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Garage Sale and Other Amazing Things

I am surrounded by truly amazing people. Not only am I surrounded by such people, I know without a doubt that God is in the mix and playing a really big part in this adoption. The garage sale (last weekend) was UNreal. People that I know AND people that don't know me at all donated GREAT stuff for this sale, and my incredible friends gave up significant amounts of time with their families to pull this event off. When Molly and Ronna first told me that they wanted to hold a garage sale to raise money for our adoption, I was both touched and excited. I thought, "We could make like $500!" When I saw the really great stuff that people were donating, I thought, "Wow! We might even make $800 - $1000!!! Oh my GOSH that would be amazing!" So... if you don't know already from Facebook (or because you were there playing a HUGE part in making it happen... ) let the drumroll begin... $2,455!!! (that's including stuff that was donated that I sold on Is that AMAZING??? Have you EVER heard of a garage sale making that kind of money??? I know I haven't. Incredible.

At one point while standing in Ronna's wonderful Mom's garage (who not only donated her house for the sale, but also fixed us delish lunches each day) I just became completely overwhelmed. I looked around at my friends working so hard and at all the things that people donated- most from my church family but some from complete strangers that heard about our cause and just wanted to help out- and thought to myself, "People are doing all this for ME???" and immediately I felt like I heard God tell me, "No, Gayla. They are doing it for ME. They are doing it because they are MY people and this is MY will. I'M going to get the glory from this, not you. And the reason I am doing it is for those kids." Wow. I mean... wow. Humbling, and oh-so-very-right.

My favorite part of the sale was watching my friends as people came to haggle over prices. Molly was especially to-the-point. Someone would approach her to ask if they could pay 1/2 of the price listed on the tag and Molly would pause then say, "We aren't keeping any of this money for ourselves. We are giving it all to our friend to help her adopt two children from Ethiopia." ...and then she would just look at them. Usually they either paid the full price, or paid a bit less and made a donation. Really funny, cute and amazing. :-)

Here are a bunch of fun pix from those amazing, but exhausting days!!!

I don't know how to move the pix around here on blogger... kinda frustrating. So they are a bit out of order, but still reflect the amazing time that we had. Thank you, thank you dear friends. (OH! And I HAVE to point out pic of the cute, cute girls who were selling bows that they made out of duct tape! They sold a LOT and they gave us all their profits! And those bows are CUTE!!! I've got to get some for when I get me a girl or two in this family... :-)

So many amazing things have happened- including having a college friend (who is now a missionary whose family lives on full support and faith!) who felt like God had asked them to donate a significant amount of money toward our adoption- I am just completely undone. I still believe that what I felt God say in my heart is true- people are being so wonderful and generous because God is asking them to. I can feel God so in control of this thing that at times it is literally scary. I know we always SAY "God is in control," but to actually sense that things are truly OUT of our control is a very strange and even terrifying sensation. I know it's all good... but He is taking me to a place I have never been before, and He's taking me whether or not I even really want to go! Does that sound crazy??? It feels a little crazy. But it's a good crazy. So I'm going with it.

A song from last year's VBS keeps coming to mind lately:
"I wanna be GRATEFUL,
I wanna be THANKFUL.
I wanna remember EVERYTHING that the LORD has done!"

Monday, June 8, 2009

Too Wonderful

"You hem me in- behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is TOO WONDERFUL for me, too lofty for me to attain." Psalm 139:5-6

I don't think I ever knew what it meant for something to truly be TOO wonderful. Not until I experienced such OVERWHELMING generosity recently did I know that it was possible to feel that God's goodness was simply TOO MUCH to handle. I know that feeling now. I cannot articulate it. The knowledge that God has laid his hand upon me and my family ... it truly is too wonderful for my mind to process. In some ways I feel like I am in shock- like I am outside of everything watching it happen in a state of disbelief. In other ways I feel more alive and connected than I ever have before in my life.

More details to come later. Right now I'm just still soaking it all in.

Selam! G'day! Hello!