Adoption: From Fear to Faith

 

Photo Credit: Ferreson

“For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7

 “We are asking 5 families to join a pilot program that just opened up to adopt from Ghana.  You are one of the families we would like to consider this…”

We had already been to Ethiopian restaurants, watched Ethiopian documentaries; we loved Ethiopia!  We were going to wait 4 years to be matched with an Ethiopian orphan.  So…

Where is Ghana again?!??

I Googled the map of Africa. There it was…somewhere between Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.
East Africa.  Ebola Africa.  Violent Africa?

I am going to die if I go there. I am going to get lost, or kidnapped, or murdered….AND DIE!

Please do not be offended by my ignorance.  I am trying to be honest.  Honestly–sometimes honesty isn’t pretty.  The fear was crippling.  My answer was “NO.”  That was that.  For full disclosure, I sent my husband the email.  He wasn’t ‘feeling’ Ghana either…at first.

Why are you so afraid, Jenna?

I knew God was asking me this.  It was good question; God doesn’t ask meaningless ones.  I had to dig deep and pray.  “Is this a check in the spirit from the Lord?  Or is the enemy trying to get in the way of God’s plan?”

 “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.’”2 Timothy 1:7

The truth was: I knew nothing about Ghana…ZERO.  Heck, I had to Google map it!  My fears were totally based on, well…nothing.  I didn’t know if it was violent.  Turns out it has no cases of Ebola.  It currently has legit democratic elections.

God does not give us fear. God gives us faith!

If God is asking us to enter into something that seems dangerous from an earthly perspective, He will give us a ‘sound mind’ about it: warning, discernment, caution.  He will not cause us to panic and throw our hands about in fury.  He will not scare us into submission.  He calls us into submission because he has plans to prosper us.

BUT we have a choice; Satan knows this.
The enemy is SO very present at these pivotal moments in our faith.  He brings on the fear factor.
We end up running from our fears, instead of running towards God’s will. 

We are attacked big time when God is calling us to do something awesome for His name’s sake.  We must step back and recognize something bigger than us is at play.  There is a spiritual battle going on all around us and we must engage!  This is no time to be lazy.  We must commit to prayer; we must be in God’s word, we must cling to other believers.

All the while, lean in to God…then lean in some more.  Lean in so close that you can hear His voice above the clashing of lies and the howling fears.

Do this and you will hear Him. The crippling panic and unanswerable questions fall away.  Then it is just you, standing in the shadow of the cross: loved, forgiven, bravely poured out.  If we believe He did this for us, we must believe that we can trust Him with all things: sickness…parenting…jobs…even unknown  parts of Africa.

Only God can replace our fear with faiththe kind of faith that confirms God loves us to death.  The faith that gives confidence to go where we may die, because we know deep down…to die is to gain.

My husband and I wrestled in prayer together until 1 a.m. over the decision to switch our adoption plans to Ghana. I felt peace sweep over my body, like a tingly heat.  I heard the country’s name over and over in my head: Ghana, Ghana, Ghana.

No fear.  No questions.  Only faith remained.  It was warm and peaceful.  So peaceful I could hear His voice.
“Yes, Ghana.”

Dear Lord,
Please take away my fear and give me faith.
Amen

by Jenna Masters

 

Adoption: Useful Brokeness

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I don’t understand!!, I struck his chest.
You are so unfair! Another blow.
I continued to flail my clenched hands. I felt God’s arms firmly wrap around me.
He let me throw a fit, but He didn’t leave me. He held me…

This was the night I feared God’s answer to adopting was “No.”  For several years, God was silent about my desire to adopt.  I believed the passion was put there by the Holy Spirit.  But when it came down to it; when I asked God if He would fulfill this desire of my heart…He was silent.  When I would ask my husband, he would say “No.”  This was an ongoing cycle.

I was patient.  Perhaps God was working on my husband’s heart.  Maybe God was preparing me for more than one adopted child.  All great things! Until all these ‘great’ reasons for God’s silence seemed like made up excuses.

Was God really being silent, or was He simply saying, “No?”  I had already conceived a child in my heart.  I was broken hearted thinking that God may be preparing me for a miscarriage.  No to adoption was one of the hardest answers from God I had to face.  My prayers were not super lovely.  Instead of praying that God would change my husband’s heart, I shifted my prayer: “God, help me to mourn this.  If this is not part of your plan for me, I will be devastated.”

Mourning without God is exhausting.  Mourning with God is empowering.

Knowing we are not alone in our suffering gives us strength.  God allowed me to throw my fists against Him and beat as hard as I could.  I was so sad, I felt so frustrated; but then there were those arms; tight around my tired body.  I could not shake them.  With all my brokenness and disappointment aimed straight at Him, He stayed.  He was reminding me of His character.  He is Emmanuel, “God with us.”  He was God with meI felt deep pain, but I felt safe.  Safe in the plan God had set out for me.  He was teaching me to find my rest there, even if I was unhappy about it.

One night, I realized I had been resting a little too long in my disappointment.  My husband said to me, “Jenna, if we can’t adopt and orphans are your heart, what else can you do to help them?”

Um… I want to adopt one.  Pay attention buddy!

I didn’t realize until that moment how stubborn and narrow-minded I had been.  I took a deep breath, literally shook off the grief, and offered what was left to God.  My prayer that night was very awkward: “God, I still feel disappointed and hurt. I’m tired. But, if you can use me like this, USE ME! “

“Each time He said, ‘My grace is all you need.  My power works best in weakness.’  So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. ”  2 Corinthians 12:9 NLT

The endurance and strength of a child doesn’t matter– if he is running the race on top of his father’s shoulders.  God was shouting, “Come as you are! Hop on! Let me take you where I want to go.”

This wasn’t about my ability.  How true it is: when we are weak, He is so so strong!  It was that night, that I ‘stumbled’ across a way to help PREVENT orphans.  In the following weeks, God enabled us to form a team of 70 people to run a marathon to provide clean water to poor families of Africa.  Our team provided 1,076 people with clean water for life!  Families battling death, disease, and giving up their children out of desperation, could keep their families together.  Orphans were prevented.  God’s plan unfolded…even if I entered in as a mess.  That is how grace-FULL He is.

Within weeks of pouring myself into God’s calling, the most amazing gesture of God’s faithfulness knocked me to my knees.  My husband approached me and said he was ready to adopt!!  God was not saying no all that time.  He was saying not yet!  If God had given me the desire of my heart when I demanded it, I never would’ve opened my eyes to other ways to help orphans.  If He were not silent, I never would’ve leaned in closer to hear what He had to say. 

What a beautiful display of God’s perfect timing.  If my husband had said yes just weeks earlier to adoption, there may not have been 1,076 people touched by Jesus’ provision.  God knew that.  God used me in my brokenness.  He took my desire; the desire I felt I had to mourn and bury, and resurrected it into something I couldn’t have formed on my own.  He planned to answer my desperate prayer, ‘can you use me like THIS?’ to answer another mother’s desperate prayer on the other side of the world.

How beautiful is our God.

by Jenna Masters

Unwrapping the Gift: The Sacrifice

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“And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering…”  Genesis 22:8  “…the next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him and saith, ‘Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.”  John 1:29

A few weeks ago the ladies who serve on the Women’s Ministry Website team made it known to various individuals our plan to focus on God’s greatest gift by looking at what the Christmas Hymns (aka Carols) mean to us.  The very first response was from dear friend, Peggy Carson, and I had to stop and wonder at her choice for favorite Christmas Carol…”At The Cross.”  Christmas Carol?

As I thought about it, I realized it was a perfect choice.  For many Christmas holidays now I have been conscientiously remembering the cross even as I’ve celebrated the birth.  Jesus is the true…the only…sacrifice God Himself has provided to take away our sins.

At this time of year it is easy to get one-sided in our focus, dwelling on decorations, gifts, preparation lists, twinkling lights on trees, homes, and buildings.  These are all the things we can see that enhance this time of celebration of the innocence and wonder of birth.

But…that baby boy was born among the animals in a stable.  Years later He would enter Jerusalem to the cries of jubilation from a people who were desperately hoping for deliverance from Roman tyranny.  They were looking for what they could see.  They didn’t make note that this was the very day the lambs were being brought into the city in preparation for the Passover sacrifices.  Because they looked with their eyes instead of their hearts they missed the eternal significance of this baby grown to manhood.

For the past several years, when I have decorated our tree, I have placed a nativity ornament front and center and, close to it, a cross.  It reminds me (and I hope others) to see the whole reason for the season…the baby boy born to die…All for you…All for me.

Christmas blessings to you from Becky, Beth, Janell, Pat and Marilyn, the website team of CCEA Women’s Ministry.

At The Cross

There’s a place where mercy reigns and never dies,
There’s a place where streams of grace flow deep and wide
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood,
Comes flowing down.

(Chorus)
At the cross
At the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white,
I owe all to You
I owe all to You Jesus.

There’s a place where sin and shame are powerless,
Where my heart has peace with God and forgiveness,
Where all the love I’ve ever found,
Comes like a flood,
Comes flowing down.

(Chorus Repeat)

Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You save my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow down

Chris Tomlin
“Love Ran Red” Album
http://youtu.be/ORyXT2ZRwUE

 

 

 

Unwrapping the Gift: O Holy Night

The Gift

My favorite Christmas Carol has long since been “O Holy Night.”  As I read the lyrics to this famous song it’s so easy to become enveloped by its deeply moving and worshipful words.  And as I listen to the richness of heart in whomever finds themselves suited to sing it, I am in awe as it reflects the birth of my Lord and the divine redemption of humankind.  It isn’t so much the voice or the music that bellows forth heartfelt meaning, but the One of whom the lyrics are written as they pour forth such delight and splendor and passionate gratitude.

“Til He appear’d and the soul felt its worth.”

As those profound words testify, my soul knew not its worth until my heart was made to see Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, who came forth as a baby, fully God and fully man, to give my soul eternal life.  Just as the virgin Mary carried Jesus in her womb and exclaimed, “My soul exalts the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:45-47), I, too, am compelled to utter joy and exaltation as I carry His Spirit within me!

I can hardly stand where I am while tears well up in my adoring eyes as I sing out to my Savior this glorious chorus:

“Fall on your knees 
O hear the angel voices
O night divine
O night when Christ was born…” 

Who can resist such a heavenly call to fall down and worship the Christ, the greatest gift the soul will ever know?  Our Savior’s law truly is love and His gospel is peace!  Let all that is within us praise His holy name!

by Dana Lange

“O holy night!
The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

Fall on your knees!
O hear the angel voices!
O night divine,
O night when Christ was born;
O night divine
O night,
O night divine.

Led by the light of Faith serenely beaming
With glowing hearts by His cradle we stand.
So led by light of a star sweetly gleaning,
Here come the wise men from Orient land.
The King of Kings lay thus in lowly manger;
In all our trials born to be our friend.

He knows our need,
our weakness is no stranger,
Behold your King!
Before Him lowly bend!
Behold your King,
Before Him lowly bend!

Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love
and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.

Christ is the Lord!
O praise His Name forever,
His power and glory evermore proclaim.
His power and glory evermore proclaim.

Version by John Sullivan Dwight 1855
based on a poem by Placide Cappeau 1847
music by Adolphe Adam 1847

 

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