::URGENT::Prayer Need

—Copy of Email Sent 9/16/2017—

We wanted to send a quick e-mail to let you know of an urgent prayer need happening this week in our city.  In our last e-mail we gave some details of a recent victory at the 8th circuit court in a case out of Arkansas.   Praise God for that!  Since we sent that out it has come to our attention that there is a current case in the court from our state.  This case will be heard this week! Wednesday September 20, a three judge panel made up of Judges, Michael Melloy, Roger Wollman, and Raymond Gruender will hear a case being brought against the state by the satanic temple.

The satanic temple claims that Missouri’s 72 hour waiting period, and informed consent laws prior to obtaining an abortion violate their religious beliefs.  It comes as no surprise that those who worship satan would partner with planned parenthood and advocate for abortion.  We will be praying this week while this case is heard in our court.  A small company will be going to the court to pray.  If you are interested in joining in prayer at the court I suggest you get there early and plan to park at either a meter or in the parking garage across the street from the courthouse.  This case is the second case scheduled for the day, the judges begin hearing cases at 9am.

Please join us in praying this week.  Even if you can’t join us at the court, you can pray along with us.  Let’s contend for life to be proclaimed from our court.  I encourage you to learn the judges names and pray for them by name in the days leading up to Wednesday.  And stay tuned for more.  There is another case coming to the 8th circuit.  We don’t know yet when it will be heard, but we will join to pray when that case is heard as well.

Redemptive Love

What do you think of when you hear the word “redemption”?  This word I think can mean different things to different people based on their experiences, hurts, and journey in life.  For me it has always brought me to a place of reflection.  What Jesus did on the cross for me, that I’ve been rescued from my former sinful nature because of His redemptive love.  Up until a year ago, that’s pretty much where it ended.  Just some vague reference to Jesus and love, it had almost gotten to the point where it felt a bit robotic.  Growing up in church I had heard those words my whole life.  It wasn’t until I went through a rather traumatic miscarriage experience 7 years ago that I stopped and questioned what redemption really was.  I had big questions for God.  If you really loved me, why did you allow this?  If you have redeemed me from the grave, then why does this hurt so deeply?  Big questions like, how can I ever trust You again?  I’m being honest and a bit raw today because now that I’ve come through that and have healed I can look at the scar and see the good that it has brought.  When God takes the pain, the hurt and the yuck of this life and holds us as we walk through it so that we can see His glory in the midst of it, that is redemption.

Redemptive love holds you and whispers, “it will be ok, I won’t ever leave.”  Even when you are pushing away with all your might because it hurts.  Redemptive love says, “I understand you don’t want to trust me right now, that’s ok.”  Redemptive love, never gives up.  Miscarriage is hard.  In my case we had 5 completely perfect and healthy pregnancies and births before the miscarriage.  I thought I had dodged the bullet and that statistics of 1 in 5 pregnancies ending in miscarriage don’t apply to me.  Having had 5 babies previously I was well versed in all things pregnancy and birth and the unborn.  I also knew the methods of early abortions and was well versed in how an abortion is carried out at all stages of pregnancy. In our experience we ended up in the E.R. after I passed out from blood loss during the miscarriage.  I was given a drug to help the process.  I later found out this was the same drug given to women in the first trimester who have elective abortions.  The next day, when the drug did little to help things along we went in to see my Dr.  She took one look at me and immediately decided I needed a D &C.  She promptly found an open O.R. and reserved it for just that.  Before I knew it I was being prepped for this out-patient procedure, again a procedure that is also used in early second trimester abortions.  I went home that day empty and broken.  As a dear friend who recently wrote about this topic so eloquently put it, “Part of a sisterhood that I never asked to join”.

In January of 2016 I stood in this spot and wept as angry protesters shouted behind me. In May of 2017 we returned, full of faith and joy. Weeping may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

 

Empty and Broken, angry at God, and confused about how any good at all could possibly come of such a terrible experience.  But God.  As I’ve healed over the past seven years I gained a perspective of that experience that allows me to see that there can be good from even the most painful of experiences.  I asked God to show me a promise in His word, something, anything I could grab onto and not let go of to get me through.  He drew me to Psalm 126.  Specifically verses 5 and 6.  “Those who sow in tears, will reap a harvest of Joy.”  These two verses have sustained me through my darkest days, and have been a source of comfort when doubt creeps in.  This promise in God’s word is what I clung to with all my might during the pregnancy following the miscarriage.  It was the promise I prayed into as we were waiting for our baby girl who joined our family through the amazing gift of adoption.  Psalm 126 is why our son’s middle name means, “joy” and why our daughter’s middle name is Joy.

Joy comes in the morning.  My heart has grown and changed in these 7 years.  I am not the same person I was before the experience of loss.  I believe in that experience, God in His kindness and mercy did answer my prayer.  He did take something horrible, and used it for His glory.  A cry of my heart for years has been, “Lord, give me your heart for the unborn.  I want my heart to break with the things that break yours.”  This is one of those dangerous prayers that you pray thinking God will answer one way, but in the end He carries you through something so heavy and difficult that you come out on the other side a completely different person.  Prior to experiencing the loss of a child I would pray for life, I would stand on the sidewalk outside abortion clinics and I would ask God to show me how He felt about the issue of abortion, but I never (not once) shed a single tear.  It’s a heavy topic.  I was confused and thought as a woman, as a mother, that there was something wrong with me.  Why didn’t this grieve me to the point of tears?  I believe part of it was that I didn’t fully grasp what it was to walk through loss.  Going through that season was like an opening of the flood gates, literally.  I cried all the time, sometimes I wasn’t even sure why.  I would find myself suddenly overwhelmed with emotion, and grief.  It was part of my healing process, but it was also part of the way God was using the terrible, horrible of personal loss to answer my hearts cry to know His heart.

 

This loss has been bitter sweet for the past seven years. While I could look at the end result and see how my faith has grown through it, there is still someone missing from our family.  For me this loss was a double whamy in that we went through this during the spring, arguably my favorite season.  Where once this season brought only good memories and happy thoughts of warmer days, these past seven years those good things also remind me of the pain of loss.  If you had told me 7 years ago that this was the story God would write I wouldn’t have believed you, but God writes the most amazing stories!  1 year ago a brave and amazing momma choose us to parent her beautiful baby girl.  She has shown a depth of love and sacrifice that still leaves me breathless, but it gets better; our court date to finalize was almost exactly 7 years after I had the D&C procedure.  This is redemption.

Finalization Day!!! It’s official, she has our name.

 

This is God taking your mourning and turning it into dancing.  This is what rejoicing in the Lord’s goodness looks like.  This is Redemptive Love.  We’ve walked through the pain of loss, we’ve leaned into Jesus, the only one who can truly heal our hearts, and we have our Joy in the morning.

Number Crunching

Today we’re going to talk numbers.  I know it’s somewhat taboo to ask what the costs are when considering adoption.  The fact of the matter is this, adoption is costly.  There are many reasons for this that I will not get into, but the bottom line is, valuable things cost something.  When we speak about adoption we are literally speaking about lives.  Many times these are lives that either would not even have a chance at life if not for adoption, in other cases they are lives that would be tossed about from home to home never finding a permanent family.  So yes, it is going to be costly.  Redemption is costly.  On average a late first trimester abortion costs between $300 to $500.  An average domestic adoption costs between $25,000 to $50,000 depending on many factors.  So when we look at the costs associated with adoption what we really need to be asking is, how valuable is human life?  Abortion says, life is disposable.  The fees to get rid of the “problem” are so low in comparison to what a family pays to save that life.

We need a perspective change.  Instead of looking at the bottom line, and what it will cost in the end, we should be asking what is wrong with our society that a mother can pay $300 to have the life of her child snuffed out, when there are waiting lists of families all over the nation who have sacrificed and said, that child is very valuable.  We are willing and ready to be a family for that child.  The cost of adoption isn’t shocking to me, maybe it should be.  When we look at it in comparison to the cost of an abortion my only thought is, what better way?  What better way to live out the gospel.  What better way to be Jesus with skin on to a world in need.  What better way to show a mother in a desperate situation that not only is the baby in her womb valuable, but she is valuable!  She is worth the sacrifice.

As a family we know the costs firsthand.  Almost 1 month ago we got the call.  The call from our agency saying, we were chosen by a momma, and did we have the funds ready to wire to cover the agency fees?  Only a few days later we recieved another call, “the expectant mom will be having a c-section in just a few days, you need to make travel plans”.  Because we were ready, we had prepared, we had saved, we had done some fundraising, and God had set the whole thing up, when that call came, we were able to jump into action and say yes.  Today we have our daughter in our arms because we didn’t let the cost deter us.  We could have, in all those months of waiting, and looking at the funds just sitting there, and setting aside money knowing that one day we would get the call, we could have given up hope, we could have said, it’s too costly.  We could have spent that money on other things, on home improvements or vacations, but adoption is all about counting the cost.  When Jesus adopted us, did He decide that hanging on a cross was too costly, and He would rather spend the day at the beach?  He could have, He is God afterall.  He could have said, yeah, no thanks, the price is too high, but He didn’t.  Instead He chose us over His own personal comfort.  Do I wish adoption cost less?  Yes I do.  You may be surprised at why I wish it cost less though.

If it were less costly, all that would mean for us is the ability to adopt more.  Simply put, we have been called to adopt, to care for the widow and the orphan, this is true religion.  This is true compassion, when you are grieved over an injustice and you can no longer sit idly by and watch from the sidelines.  Our compassion for mothers in difficult circumstances has drawn us to action.  The cost is a limiting factor for so many families who feel called to adopt, it holds them back and tests their faith and even results in asking the question, God do you really want me to do that?  I believe a day is coming soon when life will once again be valued, when abortion will be a thing of the past, a memorial we remember of a by gone era.  When that happens there will be children who’s mothers either don’t want to, or can’t care for them.  Where will those children go?  It’s time for an adoption movement to arise.  It’s time for the church to get ready to take in the children who have no homes.   I want to challenge you to grow in faith in the area of finances.  If the cost is a limiting factor for your family, yet you feel called and have a heart desire to be a mother or father to the orphan, I challenge you to say yes to God in the area of Adoption.  If adoption is something God has called you to and you’ve set it aside because of the cost, maybe God is simply waiting for your yes before He releases the finances?  I’ve discovered oftentimes, when God calls me to to something He only shows me one step at a time, and usually there is not breakthrough until I’ve set all my excuses aside and said yes!  Will you join me in asking God to release finances for families who are called to adopt?  If you personally don’t feel called, then maybe God is asking you to be the one to provide in the area of finances for a family that does?  #AdoptionIsRedemption  #AdoptionIsCostly  #AdoptionIsWorthIt  #EveryLifeHasValue

Bringing Home Hadassah

The Backstory

We’ve known that adoption was in our future for almost 10 years, but our journey started years before that. The dreams started when I was pregnant with our first child 15 years ago. I had no idea what they meant at the time, but dream after dream have come through the years in which I gave birth to or was holding a dark curly haired, dark skinned baby girl. We first met someone with the name Hadassah at a church in the city which we were invited to come and speak about LIFE. The pastor and his wife were a black couple and they had a daughter whose name was Hadassah. I was giving the message that night and it was all about Esther. My husband Jeremy and I left and said to each other, “The next girl we have, her name is Hadassah.” That was 8 years ago.

Throughout this process every time I wanted to give up on this dream, every time I got discouraged, or thought it was too hard or maybe wasn’t God’s plan, I had a dream. In one specific instance, I had a particularly challenging day with the kids. I went to bed and as I was falling asleep I cried out to God and said this is too hard, the waiting is hard. Either come through or take away this desire. The next morning I had a message from a friend she said, “I had a dream about you last night, in it you had adopted a baby girl.” This has happened multiple times over the past nine months. God is so faithful! So many times I wanted to give up on Him, but He never gave up, He never left our side because He knew the plan He had in store. It’s so much better than I ever hoped or dreamed it would be!

Labor

Over the course of our marriage we have had many adventures! None have even come close in comparison to this! July 1st 2015 we sent in our first application and check to hire an adoption consultant. We also started praying for the momma that would carry our Hadassah. On November 20, 2015 we got the completed home study. I cried as I read that our family had been approved. It was time to begin applying to agencies! On Friday March 11, 2016, just days after getting matched we were notified that we needed to get ready to leave our home state because birth mom was scheduled for a C-section Monday morning! That entire day is a total blur of packing, and phone calls with the attorney and the adoption agency. One thing that I will always remember about that day is the attorney asked me if we had a name picked out. I told her we had chosen the name Hadassah Joy. She said, “Oh like Esther in the Bible? Isn’t there something coming up soon that has to do with that?” Purim is a Jewish holiday commemorating what Esther did when she was used by God to rescue the Jewish people from Haman’s plan to have them wiped out. This year Purim happens on March 23rd and 24th. If all goes smoothly we will bring Hadassah home during Purim.

We had planned to leave early Sunday morning so we would be sure to be there in plenty of time. Saturday night Jeremy had a dream, he rarely dreams so when he has dreams that he remembers we take notice. In the dream he was leading a group of black children to safety and there were trees with low branches lining the path he was leading the children along. In the trees there

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Leaving the hotel on Monday morning! Ready to meet Hadassah, and her tummy mommy!

were men with small paring knives that would jump out and try to cut off the hands of the people leading the children. We prayed about this dream and knew that God was trying to warn us about some kind of danger. After a little more prayer and searching we discovered that the trees in the dream looked very similar to Myrtle trees. The root word of Hadassah is Hadas which mean Myrtle tree. We knew this dream had significance and meaning. The knives we believed represented word curses and cutting off of hands we felt was a warning that the enemy was trying to cut off the work of God’s hands. We sent off a quick e-mail to a few prophetic friends and asked them to pray and call us and we were off. We got about ½ way to our destination and we got a call from a prophetic friend of ours saying she too had a dream that night with Jeremy and I in it. She told us her dream and we talked a little about the 2 dreams and what they might mean. Her dream was that there was a home remodel happening but there were a lot of delays. And obstacles in the way of accomplishing the goal. We talked and prayed and felt that although the Lord was warning us that this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park, He was also guiding us along the way and showing us how to pray through it. With that ammunition and faith boost in hand we continued to drive and pray. We had no idea just how challenging the week ahead would be.

Birthday

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Waiting and praying.
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Waiting for Hadassah to be born.

We arrived at the hospital Monday morning and right off the bat we were met with delay. The C-section was not going to be at the time we had been told, they were moving it back 2 hours. We were able to meet Hadassah’s tummy mommy and she told us she chose us specifically because we had other children and she knew we would be able to take good care of her baby.  This blessed my heart so much.  The reason so many agencies had told us we wouldn’t be chosen was exactly why she thought we would be a good fit.  The nurse came and told her it was time to get ready for the C-section and we headed over to the Labor and Delivery waiting room to get ready to meet Hadassah.  It would be 2 more hours until we actually got to meet her.

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Those who sow in tears WILL reap a harvest of JOY!
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Meeting Hadassah for the first time.

We finally got the news that she was born,  and we had more waiting until we were told we could go in to see Hadassah.  What a glorious meeting that was!  She was absolutely perfect!  The first time I held her I cried like a baby.  It was so good to finally have this promise of God in my arms.  Leading up to this day we had been praying for favor with the nurses and doctors.  We knew that some hospitals are not very friendly toward adoptive parents and we had asked God to give us a staff that would be understanding toward us.  He delivered in more ways than one!  Hadassah’s first nurse was amazing and she helped us have skin to skin time within the first hour after her birth so we could bond.  The entire nursing staff was very supportive and worked to help us navigate this dance.

The 5 Day Fight

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Hadassah’s first bedtime story.

We were so happy to have this promise in our arms but having been warned through dreams, knew we our journey wasn’t finished.  It’s such a delicate dance in an adoption situation.  The adoptive family is in a place of absolute joy at the arrival of their much awaited blessing, but there is another mother who is grieving the loss of a son or daughter.  As difficult as her life situation may be and as much as she may know that she can’t raise this little one, it is still a hard path.  After 2 days in the hospital Hadassah’s birth mom was discharged.  We were minutes from being discharged from the hospital when our representative from the agency came into the room and asked to speak with us.  With tears in her eyes she told us that Hadassah’s birth mom had changed her mind and didn’t want to go through with the adoption.  We were filled with faith that this wasn’t over.  We knew in our hearts because of the dreams we had, and the promise of God that this was an attack of the enemy on Hadassah’s life that he desired to cut off the work of God’s hands by taking her from us.  He had given us too many signs along this journey for us to turn away without a fight.  We called some dear intercessor friends we knew would stand and pray with us, and we set our hearts to prayer.  We made the little room in the hospital literally no bigger than a closet, our prayer closet and we fought for this promise.  Psalm 126:5-6 has been the verse we have stood on during this journey, and we knew that God had given Hadassah to us as a harvest of joy.  So we held her and prayed and cried and asked God to intervene and change the situation.  Then I left her there with Jeremy and went with our agency representative to talk to Hadassah’s birth mom.  I prayed the whole way there and asked God to fill me with his spirit and give me the words to speak.  In the end we left that meeting with a provisional custody agreement giving us temporary custody of her until signing day.

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Sleeping in the hallway Wednesday night
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Our room/prayer closet

I returned to the hospital.  And found Jeremy sitting in the rocking chair with Hadassah.  He told me the Doctor had ordered blood work to check her bilirubin levels because she had some jaundice, and that she wasn’t being discharged that day.  After that whole ordeal we were slightly traumatized and couldn’t imagine leaving her alone at the hospital all night.  We stayed in the room as long as we could and when they kicked us out at midnight we went and slept on the floor in the hall.  Even that ended up being a way for God to show His kindness to us.  Nurses brought us pillows and blankets, and

everyone seemed to understand why we refused to leave without our daughter.  We were shown such kindness by everyone it really is a testimony to the power of God.

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Getting ready to leave the hospital!

The next day Hadassah was discharged to us and we cried.  Her doctor was so kind and understanding with us.  He was a gift from God!  After the scare of birth mom almost changing her mind we still had to wait 2 more days for her to sign her relinquishment.  Today, Saturday was signing day.  We received a call from our attorney at 11:14 am with the good news that mom had signed and it was irrevocable.  Hadassah Joy was officially our daughter.  We have to wait a few more days for some paperwork to clear her birth state and our home state before we can go home.  We are thrilled, amazed, and in awe of the awesomeness of God.  His plans are so much higher than ours.  We are also so very thankful for our friends and family who dropped everything on short notice to help out with our kids at home.  And for our church family and our dear intercessor friends who stormed the gates of Heaven with us.  Hadassah is absolutely precious.  Her birth mom is an amazing, coureagous, and brave lady.  We love her and have welcomed her into our family as well.  We can’t wait to build a relationship with her from a far. 2016-03-15 18.23.31  We are in love.

There are at least a dozen other amazing things about our story that we would really like to share, but we cannot. Hadassah deserves to hear many of the details we are not sharing from us first as she grows up, but we are amazed at the faithfulness and kindness of our heavenly father. He has woven together an amazing story for us with incredible intricacy. It is a pleasure to run after God and join Him in another amazing adventure.

Every Child a Wanted Child

Yesterday I was privileged to be at the Supreme Court of the United States praying as those who marched in the March for Life 2016 arrived.  I have been leading a pro-life prayer ministry in my home town for 8 and a half years, and this is the first year I was able to be in DC on this significant day.  I love praying at the court!  It is one of my favorite places to be.  In the heat of summer or during a blizzard I love it there.  Yesterday had a profound impact on me.

20160122_132930Before we even arrived, a group of pro-choice counter protesters had already set up shop on the sidewalk in front of the court.  They had their signs, and their megaphone and they were shouting all the usual things; “My body, My Choice” and “Abortion on Demand and without apology” and this one (Which was new for me) “Pro-life you’re a lie, you don’t care if women die”.  That last one had me really scratching my head because a large majority of the most recent laws that have been passed in regard to abortion are specifically designed to prevent women from dying during an abortion.  The giant bill from Texas (HB2 which is now before the Supreme Court) the big things in this bill are all there simply to insure that certain safety standards are in place across the board for abortion clinics.  Things like making sure abortion providers have hospital admitting privileges just in case something happens, they can be with their patient at the hospital.  Requiring clinics to have hallways wide enough that should a woman need to be transported to a local emergency room, a gurney can navigate the halls and get her out quickly so she can get lifesaving care.  Things like requiring that an ultrasound first be conducted and the woman allowed to look if she chooses, we call this informed consent.   The pro-choice side hates all these things and fights against them every time!  Yet they say we are the ones who want woman to die?

As disturbing as all those things can be, the one thing that pierced my heart yesterday was a comment yelled angrily by someone in the group very shortly after we arrived.  She was talking about how we in the pro-life community talk about how that child might grow up to find a cure for cancer or some other terrible disease, or what if they are Albert Einstein.  Then she went on to say that no one should force a woman to carry and raise a child that is UNWANTED.  That word unwanted, hit me like a truck.  I felt literally like I had been stabbed in the heart.  You see, that child is very much wanted.  There are waiting lists of families, for every “unwanted” baby there are at a minimum 4-5 families who have said, “we want you!, We’ve been waiting for you, praying for you.”  The claim that any child is “unwanted” is a myth and a lie.

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I spent the rest of my time at the court yesterday with that phrase echoing in my ears, even with my earbuds in and worship music playing, that word, “unwanted” rang in my head.  It caused hot tears to stream down my face and freeze on my cheeks, and even now as I type this I”m tearing up again.  If there is anything I could say to women who are facing a pregnancy they did not plan it is this: You are valued and loved.  Your life has value and so does the life of your child.  God does not make mistakes, and yes He has a plan and purpose for that child, but He has a plan and purpose for you as well.  You may not want, or even be able to raise and care for your child for 18 years, but can you give your child 9 months?  Regardless of your situation, I guarantee there is a family somewhere who has been waiting and praying for you, and for your child.  You are loved, you are valued, and you have a purpose.

 

Every Child IS a Wanted Child!

Who is called to adopt?

Adoption is a beautiful picture of the gospel lived out.  It is what Jesus did on the cross, his sacrifice has brought us into a family we never would have been a part of otherwise.  Adoption is also costly.  It cost Jesus his very life!  In modern times it costs a large sum of money, as well as time, and other sacrifices in order to bring a child home.  In looking at adoption I realized many agencies charge fees that are equivalent to what my husband made the first few years we were married.  Put that into perspective, to bring a child into your home through adoption can cost a year’s salary!  The first few years we were married the amount of money we lived on was so small that we qualified for government assistance.  Yet here we are a decade later, in the thick of it, crunching the numbers, dipping into our savings, praying and researching agencies, all to bring home a child.

Is it worth it?  Is what Jesus did on the cross worth it?  Or do you wish he would have been less willing to make that sacrifice?  Everyday as we go through our routines we are making choices.  Some choices are simply for our own personal comfort, some are for the needs of our family, some are great sacrifices for the needs of others we have never even met.  But, we spend our days making choices.

So, who is called to adopt?  Whether a family embraces adoption or not is just another choice they have to make.  Is everyone called to bring a child into their home?  I don’t believe so, but everyone can have a heart of adoption.  So what does that look like?  There are actually many wonderful ways to live out the calling to care for the widow and orphan in their distress.

“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

Some families may be in a place financially where they can give towards adoption expenses, but they can’t care for a child, they can give.  Some families may not have the finances to give, but they have baby items or toys they are no longer using, they can be donated to a family who is adopting, or to an agency that helps mothers in crisis.  Some families have a love of children but feel overwhelmed in their current season and can’t take on the responsibility of another, they can offer to babysit so adoptive parents can have a night out.

All can pray.

We can pray and ask God to strengthen the mothers considering abortion, that they may have the ability to have a selfless love and choose life for their child, even if that means it’s a life they won’t get to be a part of everyday.  Regardless of what we think when we look at adoption from a purely pro-life perspective, choosing to head down the road of adoption for a birth mom is a very difficult choice.  There are many reasons for this, but the biggest and perhaps simplest is that to choose adoption is a choice that requires the birth mom to grieve a loss.  The best way I’ve heard it explained is to think about having a miscarriage.  You know there was a life there, yet you never got to know that child, they were taken from you before you even had a chance to know them.  It’s the empty arms after leaving the hospital that may be the most difficult part.  As a mother, you know your child is in good hands, with a loving family that you hand picked in the case of adoption, in the arms of Jesus in the case of miscarriage, yet there is still an emptiness in your heart that will never be filled.  Mothers in this valley of decision need our love, prayer and support.  They are in a very vulnerable position.  When we find ourselves in these type of situations those are the times when our enemy the devil swoops in and whispers the lie that there is an easy way out.  The thought of growing and nurturing a child for 9 months and then giving that child to someone else is unfathomable to a mother, even a mother who knows she isn’t in a position to provide for a child.  Often these mothers will justify abortion all the while not realizing that they will still grieve the loss.  Adoption and abortion are both choices that will result in a mother having to grieve.  The difference is that in adoption there is hope that the mother will be able to continue to have some kind of relationship with her child, maybe even be a part of his or her life.  The days of adoption being a big secret are largely over.  In every state in the United States open adoption is being praised and celebrated not only for it’s benefits to the child in knowing who their birth mother is, but to the birth mother as well.  It brings great comfort to many birth moms to see their baby growing and thriving and being loved by parents who cherish him or her.

Having a “heart of adoption” doesn’t necessarily have to mean you personally adopt.  It simply means seeing things through the Father’s eyes.  He is what a heart of adoption looks like.  He sent his son to live a selfless life and die a death he didn’t deserve, adoption is interwoven beautifully through out scripture.  Read the story of Moses, or Esther, or even Jesus, who was adopted by Joseph.  You will see the Father’s heart of adoption.  It is what selfless love looks like.  Adoption is redemption.

In the Waiting……

I’m not a person who is necessarily good at waiting.  Waiting in line, waiting in traffic, waiting for dinner to cook.  Waiting and I don’t get along.  In fact I am fairly convinced that it is my lifelong task and goal to learn patience.  I have 6 kids and the most common thing I hear from people when they find that out is, “Wow, you must have a lot of PATIENCE!”  No!  I don’t, at least not nearly as much as you would think.  I usually just laugh and tell them they have no idea.  I am learning patience.  I’m learning, in the waiting, to wait well.  It’s not easy, in fact just when I think I’ve got this waiting thing mastered, God sends a new challenge, a new and longer thing I have to wait for.  My first few pregnancies, for example seemed to drag on, and on (it should be noted here that never have I actually carried a pregnancy all the way to the “due date”, I’ve gotten close, but always have had my babies “early”).  That’s called being impatient, reaching the goal early and celebrating like you’ve overcome some great obstacle.  I see now, those first few pregnancies were only the training ground for the waiting.  All my babies were born between 36 and 39 weeks.  The nature of learning to wait well is that when you master the challenge in one area, you sort of graduate to the next.  By the time I had baby number 6 (who was born just 1 day before his “due date”) I felt I had mastered it!  I got to the point where I was at ease with the waiting, and I had surrendered to God and said, Lord have your way.  I’m completely content for this baby to come on your time table, not mine.  I thought that was great, like I had passed this test, I had figured it out.  Finally, I had attained this elusive “Patience” everyone was always telling me I had an abundance of.

That was only the beginning of the lesson.  Shorty after our baby number 6 was born we felt the Lord was leading our family into a new season.  For us this meant a season of being done having children biologically and the beginning of our journey into adoption.  Adopting a child was something we had talked about for years prior, but always knew for our family it was not something we could pursue while I was pregnant or nursing a baby, we also felt as seasons change, that it would happen in a season when our biological children were all out of the “baby” stage.  When my husband come home from a prayer meeting one day (which I didn’t attend because I was home with our newborn baby #6) and told me he had heard from the Lord it was time.  I almost jumped for joy.  I knew that meant it’s time to adopt.  But in my impatient head I thought that was the green light.  I was ready to start calling agencies the next day and getting a home study started.  At this point we had already been waiting about 5 years to adopt.  Waiting, patiently waiting.  Not really talking about it, not really telling anyone except to say we wanted to “someday” when we were asked if we wanted more children.  But just waiting.  Adoption has been a dream in our hearts at this point in time, for about a decade.  For 10 years I have been in the waiting.  It’s been a dream in the heart of God even longer, we’ve only known about it for 10 years.  That’s the mystery of God.  He has dreams for us and if we grab hold of and latch onto them we can dream with Him.  It’s a wild adventure, and it often takes longer than we expect.  God’s timing is perfect, and it’s often not the same as ours.

Many things in life require waiting.  Yes mommas have to wait for their babies to arrive, through adoption, or through pregnancy.  Dreamers also have to wait for the fullness of their dreams.  Adoption is a personal dream of mine.  I have literally had dreams, multiple dreams, of a child.  A daughter who is not from my bloodline.  God has given us a name and I’ve seen her face in my dreams.  I feel that I’ve been pregnant with this dream for almost a decade.  I haven’t let go, I’ve wanted to!  Many times I’ve said to God, “It’s too hard!”  I can’t just keep waiting.  I’ve tried to give the dream back to Him, but He won’t accept it.  It’s part of my destiny, it’s who I am and part of my calling.  A funny thing happens when you take up the mantle of prayer for a certain thing, it becomes interwoven into the very fabric of who you are.  That is what has happened with me and this adoption thing.  You can’t spend 10 years praying for the ending of abortion, and a heart of adoption without it somehow changing who you are.  Habakkuk says it best in Habakkuk chapter 2:1-3
I will climb up to my watchtower
and stand at my guardpost.
There I will wait to see what the LORD says
and how he will answer my complaint.
Then the LORD said to me,
“Write my answer plainly on tablets,
so that a runner can carry the correct message to others.
This vision is for a future time.
It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently,
for it will surely take place.
It will not be delayed.

This is my way of writing the vision plainly on tablets, so that a runner may carry it to others.  There is a time coming soon when abortion will be a thing of the past.  We are already seeing the shift in the culture where the next generation is turning away from the mindset of the past.  They are, in large numbers, rejecting the theory that a child in the womb is “property” of the mother to do with whatever she wills.  What happens when abortion ends in our nation?  There will still be unplanned and sometimes unwanted children who are conceived.  The people of God must arise and say, I will take that baby.   I will raise him, or her as my own.  And not only be available to do so, but have a heart desire to welcome these little ones like Jesus.  It takes more than a willing heart to say, I will raise that child.  That baby that you don’t want or aren’t capable of raising.  it’s takes a heart willing to be content in the waiting.  Adoption is hard, it’s costly, and it requires patience at a level that many people don’t possess.  Adoption is also a beautiful picture of a loving God who gave everything, even his own son so that He could adopt us as sons and daughters.  #AdoptionIsRedemption  #WorthTheWait

The Weapons of our Warfare Part 2

In 2 Chronicles chapter 20 Jehoshaphat faces two formidable foes, the armies of Moab, and Ammon. He is outnumbered, and he knows it. He doesn’t know what to do or how Judah can possibly defeat them. So he calls a prayer meeting. Everyone comes, even the women and the children. They admit to God that they don’t know what to do. In verse 12 Jehoshaphat says, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, BUT our eyes are on YOU.” Where are our eyes as we fight this vast army that is attacking the next generation? Are we looking to the talk radio voices? The politicians? The supreme court? Or are we looking to God and asking Him, how do we fight this army? How do we take on this enemy? Here’s what Jehoshaphat did; first, he prayed and asked God what to do, then he gathered others with Him to pray and seek God’s face. Then they went to the place where the armies had assembled. They went “on location” if you will. But we need to stop for a minute and pay attention to who went first. Verse 21, “After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His Holiness as they went out at the HEAD of the army saying, Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever. As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab.”  IMGP7323

Why do we go to the clinic, or to the court? What difference does the location make? Well, that is where the stronghold has taken residence. We go to fight; we go to wage war in the Heavenlies. Not with the weapons of our flesh, not with anger, or bitterness, or sarcasm. We go in a spirit of prayer, and worship because we know that it isn’t about us. It isn’t about how powerful my weak prayers are, or how much I’ve sacrificed to be there. It’s about a mighty God who goes before us, and believe it or not, is even more grieved over this loss of life than we are. We go to partner with His heart, to stand and say, Yes Lord this hurts, it hurts me too. I’m here with You. We go with a heart of joy and worship because we know how the story ends. Jesus wins.

What is the result when we face our enemy the devil with Joy, Praise, and Worship? Confusion. The enemy doesn’t know how to react. Even the other people on the sidewalk don’t know how to react. It never fails, almost every time I have been at a clinic praying, the escorts and sometimes the workers in the clinic come outside and just stare at us. Their reaction is in STARK contrast to the others on the sidewalk who are shouting or otherwise being loud in some way. This strategy of standing silent in a posture of prayer and worship has taken them by surprise. We’ve been praying confusion in the enemy camp and I believe I have seen what that looks like firsthand. You can see it on their faces, it’s like they are thinking, “who are these people?” “What are they doing?”

I believe Goliath was taken totally by surprise when the stone hit him. It was unexpected. God’s Strategies are often odd to us, and confusing to the enemy. When we don’t fight with the weapons of this world, we win! It may take time, it may take much longer than we want. We often want to give up and like an immature child throw ourselves down on the floor and kick and yell and get upset. But we have to remember like David, we are children of the Living God and He has already won this battle.  In times when it seems like we’re losing the battle, or that what we are doing isn’t making a difference we have to stop and look to Jesus.  When we seek His face and search His word for what to do, the strategy is clear, worship first.  As the worshipers we are sounding the battle cry, we are going first in the spirit and setting the stage; preparing the atmosphere for what God wants to do through the others on the sidewalk.  We all have our place, those who call out to the women have a vital purpose on the sidewalk, without us there praying and backing them up, they are much less effective.  It’s prayer and worship combined with action and outreach.  We are more powerful when we unite and each of us fulfill the mission God has called us to.  In Judges chapter 1, when the armies of Israel were preparing to go in and take the promised land, what tribe goes first?  The worshiping tribe of Judah.  In Hebrew Judah means: “I will thank/praise the Lord”.  There is power released when we go in a spirit of thanksgiving, prayer, joy and worship.  As a bonus, these things bring confusion to the enemy.  They just don’t know how to respond.  So go in the spirit of thanksgiving, and joy; giving praise to our God because we know how this story ends.  Jesus gets the victory.

                             Like David and Goliath

The Weapons of our Warfare Part 1

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:4

 

Anger, worry, despair, control, cynicism, sarcasm, spite; these are all “weapons” we could use to fight the battle for LIFE in our nation. These are the weapons of choice of our flesh. When we forget who our real enemy is, it’s easy to get angry at the reality we face. The reality is that babies are dying every day in our nation, in our cities. In my home state last year just over 5000 babies were killed in abortions. That is such a sobering fact, but not nearly as sobering as the number lost in our neighboring state of just over 41,000! Yes! You read that right, it’s not a typo. When I first read that statistic I was brought to tears, and filled with righteous indignation at the massive loss of life so close to home. When I was growing up in a suburb of St. Louis Missouri I remember when we would drive into our city limits and pass the sign that listed the population. I’ve never been much of a numbers gal. In fact I have always HATED math. It’s a difficult subject for me and often when I am reading and there are numbers I just quickly scan them and don’t really stop to read them or really spend much time thinking about them. But growing up in my hometown and passing the population sign frequently I remember it vividly even today, the population of the little suburban town I grew up in was 46,000 at the time I was living there. So when I read the statistic this week of how many babies were killed in abortions in Illinois last year I was immediately reminded of that sign. When I read that statistic it was like I was driving past my hometown and almost everyone was gone, wiped out by some plague or terrible terrorist attack. I’m not a very emotional person, but when I put the 2 numbers together I couldn’t help but cry out to God and say, It’s not fair! God, the state right next door to where I live had as many abortions last year as almost the entire population of the town I grew up in.                                                                                                                                                                 Abortions-Decline-ChartAbortion Rates Down since 2010

We can react one of two ways when faced with this reality. Our flesh wants to act out. When I realized just how big abortion is and just how many lives have been lost, I wanted to shout and yell from the rooftops. I wanted to call every pastor I know and grill them on why this isn’t an issue they trumpet in their pulpits. I wanted to get in some people’s faces about why they don’t care. The flesh is so very weak and wants to act in all these rather immature ways that don’t get the results we want. So how should we react? If all the “weapons” of the flesh are ineffective what are our “weapons” in this fight? 2 Corinthians reminds us that our “weapons” are not the weapons of this world, i.e. the weapons of our flesh. We fight this battle on our knees. The most effective weapons we have are; joy, prayer, and worship.  Joy? I know what you’re thinking, how can I possibly have joy in the face of such blatant evil? Our joy is not because of the evil, nor is it reduced because of the evil. Our joy is in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ who we know has already won the battle. He has defeated death and is victorious! When I remember this fact I can go to a clinic and remain joyful. I can’t help but be reminded of a Misty Edwards song where she says, I know the end of the story, and we’re only at the beginning of the beginning. We must keep our focus on Jesus and His victory over death. It is a vital part of being in this fight. Without that truth, we fall back on the weapons of the flesh, we become bitter, angry, and apathetic. Without Jesus and a reminder that we know how this story ends, we will burn out, we will stop going to the clinic because it’s too hard, it’s too depressing, it’s too heavy. Jesus is the key, a close walk with Him is the sustaining factor in this battle.

We have forgotten this over the years, but if we look back at the Old Testament we see over and over again when the armies of Israel faced very strong and powerful armies God gave them some pretty odd strategies. David faced a giant with just 5 smooth stones.  Was it because he was just such a good shot with his sling? I’m sure he was skilled with his sling, but I propose the reason he defeated Goliath with the first blow is that he walked closely with God. He didn’t approach Goliath with anger or sarcasm. He walked up to that giant with a confidence that comes only from a place of walking closely with the living God. David had a confidence not in his ability to use a sling shot to bring down a giant, but in a God who he knew would go before him on his (and the nation of Israel’s) behalf. That God is still in the giant slaying business today. It is for that reason I can stare down evil with joy and a smile on my face (often accompanied by tears). It’s almost a contradiction that I can stand outside a clinic with a heart full of prayer, praise, and love for my king, while at the same time full of grief and mourning for what is happening inside while I wait for the giant to fall. I suppose it’s something similar to how the Father felt when Jesus was hanging on the cross. Knowing the glory of what was to come, yet having to endure the pain of the present. It is that hope, that knowing of a savior that brings joy.  We can press in with joy, because we know the end of the story, and we’re only at the beginning of the beginning.  Thanks for that amazing reminder Misty!  We know the one who has victory over death, His name is Jesus.  Joy is a powerful weapon in demolishing the stronghold of abortion in our nation, let’s use it!

(This is part 1 of a 2 part series on the weapons of our warfare.  Part 2 will cover,  prayer, and worship.)

It’s Going to Be Worth it All

If I step back in my mind’s eye and look at what we’re doing, it doesn’t make any sense. Then again, flipping through scripture reveals that being used by God often takes on a form that makes no sense to men. Ezekiel lays on his side for for over a year and eats food cooked over dung, Jesus smears mud on a man’s face, and if I went on, the list of strange behavior in the bible would take too much space for this format. We’ve been standing with “LIFE” written on red tape and placed on our mouths since May of 2013 in front of a courthouse. The strategy laid out by heaven may draw the consternation of men, but I care not. I am resolved to employ the plan of God and ride with Him to victory.

“For What” you may ask, “are we seeking victory? And why a courthouse?”. In May of 2013, Arkansas and North Dakota passed laws restricting abortion at 12 and 6 weeks respectively. These are the most restrictive laws on abortion in our nation and a direct frontal attack to Roe v Wade. The ban in North Dakota would put a stop to 90% of the abortions in that state. As always in these situations, the legal battles over these laws commenced. These are likely the most significant cases on abortion in the 42 years since Roe v Wade, and we knew that St. Louis would once again be integral in determining if an entire people group will be recognized as human.

The Eight Circuit Court in St. Louis sits one step below the supreme court and our court system was the starting point of the Dredd Scott case which made it’s way to the US Supreme Court. This case tragically decided that black people were less than human. Judge Harry Blackmun was promoted from the 8th Circuit to the US Supreme Court where he authored Roe v Wade, deciding that the pre-born are less than human.

Our stand in prayer was labeled “The Gaddite Stand” after the warrior tribe of Gad who in Numbers 32 agreed to fight for the inheritance of the other tribes before receiving their own inheritance. We would war in prayer and prepare the ground for these cases to arrive in St. Louis on behalf of Arkansas and North Dakota, believing that our own inheritance of LIFE giving laws would be released in Missouri. A small band of prayer warriors stood regularly through wind, heat, soaking rain, snow, and pleasant sunny days. In August of 2014 several people were given words independently indicating that the ground of the courthouse on which we had been standing had been given to us, that the court belonged to us. With increased expectation of what God was doing we pressed in prayer, anticipating the arrival of the cases.

In December 2014 we received word that the cases would finally be heard in St. Louis on the 13th of January, 2015. Praying that day, I could feel the satisfaction of the Lord, that we had been faithful with the Gaddite Stand. In conversation with some of the lawyers in the cases, it became apparent how important our prayers had been through the process. The attorney defending the Arkansas law relayed how he was the only pro-life attorney in the office under a pro-choice attorney general and had to prepare for this case alone. He told how miraculous it was that the attorney general even allowed the law to be challenged up to the 8th circuit court. We spent time in prayer during this season in early 2014 praying for that attorney general by name.

Our assignment is not over. It has been a pleasure to partner with the Lord in prayer and see how our prayers were used to shape history, but these cases are not finished. The three judges (Benton, Shepherd, & Smith) are deliberating their decision now and we expect a decision to be released sometime in the next six months. We must continue to pray for them as they consider these cases.  As strange as we may look at times when we follow the Lord’s direction, it is going to be worth it all!