Tuesday, June 12, 2012

where are they now...feeling blessed

This past weekend my family went to Raleigh to enjoy a wedding of a woman I think the world of.  This has many implications.  Let's start with the fact that it was in Raleigh...

For those of you that don't know, about seven years ago (holy cow has it been that long?) I decided to give up my cushy job, sell my house, sell one of my cars (yes, I was single and owned two cars - that's another story), and move to Raleigh to answer the call of campus ministry on my life.  The reality was, I had no idea what I was doing.  I knew that my college experience was not one I wished for anyone to relive and one I wished someone had stepped up and called me to the carpet on.  I'm not saying I would have listened, but that doesn't mean I don't still wish they had taken a chance.  I believe I was called to move to Raleigh, work with CCF, and be open to being used however God would call me.  What that turned out to be in a practical sense was just meeting with girls (and some guys) in a discipleship relationship.  Sometimes it was one on one, sometimes it was in groups, always it was in love (even when they didn't think it was :)  Raleigh holds so many things dear to my heart.  The ministry, those girls (and guys), and the friends I created I will never lose.  So many times I wish I could just go back to Raleigh and be there and live that life.

Sometimes I look at where we are now and see that my job has changed (for good and bad), my friendships in Virginia Beach have grown and and sadly, some have withered, and sometimes Raleigh just seems like everything would be easier...better.  I realize that moving back to Raleigh now would not be the same as when I lived there before.  And yet I still feel like that is where we will end up.  And thankfully, my husband feels the same and we already have a great community there.  But regardless of when and where and how and why, what I will never lose from Raleigh is knowing that I was right smack dab in the middle of God's will.  And I know that's true because I can see the result of that time there.

This weekend I saw a beautiful, amazing woman (it's hard not to call her a girl) get married.  I have seen her walk through many struggles and wrestle with some tough questions in her life.  And to see her now, flourishing in life, in her job, in her love of a great man, I know she is right smack dab in the middle of God's will.  And her brother who left NC State to go to bible college because he knew he was called to work with kids and show them God's love.  He has an amazing wife and he (who was once out of his mind homesick in Haiti) lives far away from his family in New York state and is, I'm sure, touching every person he meets.  We had breakfast with a man who I had the amazing honor of baptizing.  I have seen him walk through some heartache and some ups and downs and to see his passion for his work and his church is such a blessing to me.  We met with another woman who is so passionate about her church and women's ministry and it makes me cry with excitement to have seen some of the places she has come from and to now see the crazy desire she has to work with women who have dealt and will deal with some of the same things as she has/does.  And at the wedding to see another wonderful woman who branched out across the nation to step out on her own and learn and grow in an internship far away from everything she's ever known.  To see her passion for people is overwhelming!

And these are just the people I saw this weekend!  There's the woman who is following her heart and the Lord by serving her church and working at a zoo in NYC and using her amazing gift of teaching to share her passions and love to the world.  Can you imagine the number of people she touches in one day at a NYC zoo?  And the woman who has worked with her youth group back home and as a job working with the elderly to bring joy to their everyday lives by creating activities and socials for them.  And the woman who serves with Americorps and works with inner city kids in after school programs to show these kids who may have no other relationships they can trust that they are loved.  And the woman who went away from her comfort zone to pursue a counseling degree to work with families and children who have trauma and other mental health concerns.  And I could go on and on and on with the stories of their jobs and their husbands and their babies as they serve each other and their communities around them!  There are so many more!!!

I am so proud of them.  I am so proud of who they have become.  And I am beyond blessed to know them.  While I have heard some say that I had a hand in that, let me tell you, that's not the case.  At least I can't take the credit for it.  Yes, I made myself available to be used where I was supposed to.  And yes, I love that I am a part of their lives.  But the reality is, this is all God's work.  They are just letting Him make them who they're supposed to be!  And I'm just happy to know them.  It makes me think of 1 Corinthians 15:10 "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them —yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."

Thank you ladies (and gentlemen), for letting me be a part of your lives.  Can't wait to see the ripples of people God touches because you have made yourselves available to be right smack dab in the middle of His will.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Shorebreak Cashola and funding update

If you live in the Tidewater area and don't know what Shorebreak is, then I kinda feel sorry for you :)  Seriously though, the people of Shorebreak have been friends of Justin's for longer than I even know and beyond supportive of our pending adoption.  When they offered to do a cashola for us, we were ecstatic!  If you're unsure of what it means to have a "cashola" you may just know it as a different name.  TONIGHT Shorebreak is allowing us to come out and invite as many people as possible and they will contribute a portion of the sales to our tax-deductibe adoption fund provided by Lifesong for Orphans.

I know I've talked about funding transparency and how to raise to support and all kinds of things before.  I also realize that a major part of this blog the last two months has been focused on the logistics of the money piece of adoption.  Like everything else, adoption goes through phases...we just happen to be in the money phase.  And it's not because the money is just now starting to be due...no, we've been making our payments all along.  The reason money is on the forefront of my mind is because every other aspect of this process that we have any control over is done.  We are in the midst of a waiting game.  So at least by focusing on support raising, it gives us something to do while we wait to get matched with our son.

As far as fundraising goes, thus far, we have sent letters to our friends and family, we are selling t-shirts, and tonight is our cashola.  Lifesong has graciously allowed us to keep our adoption fund growing through this process so people can still make donations along the way.  There are still many t-shirts for sale, and we are excited about tonight!  As broken down in our initial funding transparency post, our adoption will cost us a total of $25,000-35,000!  Our personal payments thus far that we have worked to save and been given by our close family before fundraising add up to almost a third of our total.  What we have raised thus far from our letters and t-shirts equal about a quarter of the total amount.  With my skymiles from all my work travel, we will not have to purchase our international plane tickets which should account for $3000-4000.  So we're over halfway there and we still have some work do to but we know we will get there!!  We are still scrounging, sacrificing, and saving and with the cashola tonight, more t-shirt sales, some other possible fundraisers, and the continued donations of some amazing people we will get there.

So if you live in Tidewater and can come out to Shorebreak for dinner tonight, we'd love to see you there (it's very kid friendly)!  And to everyone else, we are so beyond blessed by your thoughts, prayers, and donations. Your generosity overwhelms me and I am so excited to bring James home so he can meet all of you!!


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Lifesong giving

I've had multiple people ask and figured it may just help to point everyone to one place.  So here it goes...a post about giving to our adoption fund through Lifesong for Orphans.

Lifesong for Orphans (www.lifesongfororphans.org) has graciously set up a fundraising account for us to raise support to help bring James home.  You can send your tax-deductible gift to the address below or send your payment via paypal (note that paypal fees apply). Lifesong is a trusted organization administering the funds on James’ behalf and will pay adoption expenses out of funds received.  100% of all funds received by Lifesong for Orphans go directly to cover our adoption costs.  Nothing is taken out for administrative costs.

If using Paypal, please go to http://www.lifesongfororphans.org/donation.html and select the donate button.  Also indicate in the "Purpose" box Preference:  Morgan #2621 Adoption

Please make checks payable to:  Lifesong for Orphans and indicate in the memo section “Preference:  Morgan #2621 Adoption

 *Note: In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit organization. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.
     Mail checks to:
Lifesong for Orphans
Attn:  Morgan #2621 Adoption
PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St
Gridley, IL 61744



Sunday, June 3, 2012

this is what failure looks like...

I have a plethora of excuses.  The fall was a crazy time of our lives.  Justin was student teaching, we were in the midst of a home study, I was traveling a lot, and we had a 6 month old.  And yet, none of these excuses are a valid reason for how I failed this fall.  I'm not going to go into the details but what it comes down to is there was someone at church that was relying on me and I never followed through.  Never followed up.  Could have been a 10 second text or 10 minute call and I just didn't do it.  And the result of that failure is that someone is having a hard time with our church.  That's right, the work of one person (or lack thereof) is impacting the entire church.  You may think that's a little extreme but the reality is, if the church is lacking one person that should be there and is not, then the entire church is impacted.  And this time, it's my fault.

I think about the church as a whole and how the personification of "the church" has failed society.  Not that some individual churches are not doing great things.  But somehow we have forgotten that we are broken, sinful people who are not perfect and make mistakes.  The church is so quick to place their own thoughts and beliefs on those who are not inside the walls that they alienate those outside the walls and fail to accomplish the original basis on which the church as a whole was established.  Now, don't get me wrong, once inside, we are called to a higher standard, but we forget that we come from the same place as everyone on earth!  And at no point are we commanded to put that "standard" on anyone else.  We are commanded to love.  And love is what I absolutely forgot to do.  Not that I was holding anyone to my standard but I just got caught up in life and failed to show the love of Christ to someone who desperately needed it.  

I bet if we stopped focusing on ourselves and focused more on loving people the way Jesus taught us, there would be plenty more people inside the walls.  AND the perception of Christianity in this world would be entirely different.  The only thing I can do is to start the loving for myself.  And most of the time, I try to do that.  But this last fall, I failed miserably.  

To the people outside the walls who feel judged or that the church is lacking, I apologize.  I hope you realize that God's love is bigger than his broken, sinful people.  I hope you know that the message of Jesus Christ can be boiled down to his commands:  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and also, Love your neighbor as yourself.  And we also know that there is nothing we need to do to be ready to know him or come to him.  The bible tells us "He didn't, and doesn't, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn't been so weak, we wouldn't have known what to do anyway. We can understand someone dying for a person worth dying for, and we can understand how someone good and noble could inspire us to selfless sacrifice. But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him."  (Romans 5:8).  

While I failed a person and they are questioning me and our church, I know that thankfully, I am covered by God's grace.  I have asked that person for their forgiveness and asked God for mine.  I am reminded of Paul when he asked God to remove a trouble in his life and the response was, "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. ' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corin 12)

So to the person I completely failed, I again apologize.  I am so sorry I let you down.  I dropped the ball and it has impacted you and your family and our church family and I take full responsibility for it.  I ask that you have a smidge of grace for me and, maybe, give our church another chance with the understanding that I am one person and I am broken and sinful.