Friday, December 6, 2013

To Santa, or not to Santa: That is the question.

From the day Mike and I got married, we've always talked about when the day comes for us, if we'd do "Santa" for our someday children. 

I have so many memories of growing up and going to church on Christmas Eve and closing the service with candles and singing "Silent Night."  But then that's when the baby Jesus talk stopped.  We'd rush home to find that Santa had already visited our house.  (Santa came early for us, thanks to my neighbors, since my Mom always worked on Christmas morning.)

But now that I'm an adult, and have an entirely different view on things (Santa is not the center of my world come December every year) I'm not sure I want to push Santa.  I've always tried to figure out what words to say to explain my reasoning.  Then, one of my good friends, Dez, posted her thoughts on the very subject matter, and it was almost the same thing in what Mike and I had been thinking. I'd like to share her thoughts with you:

"Now that I’m a momma, I’ve been asked by quite a few people how Christmas will be celebrated in my household. Obviously, we believe that Christmas is a holiday celebrating the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Christmas fun and traditions come in to play once you have children. Santa, Elf on the Shelf, naughty or nice lists… you know the other side of Christmas. A recent online convo between friends has helped me put words to how I’ve always dreamed Christmas in my family would be. Read on if you care… **Soap Box Warning**

The reason we celebrate Christmas is to remember the birth of Jesus, the greatest gift of all. God gave Jesus to us and, I think, that’s where Christmas gifting traditions come from. A mommy writer (link below) put it perfectly, “God gave us that gift when we didn’t deserve it. Not a signal person was ‘good’. We were all on the naughty list. He didn’t tell us there was a wonder gift coming on December 25th, but maybe we wouldn’t get it if we didn’t shape up, so we better all watch out.” God’s gift was coming despite our behavior. His gift is unconditional love.

And, as parents, don’t WE have unconditional love for our children? I rather my children know constantly (to the point of annoying them when they're teens!) that I love them no matter what and nothing they can and will do will EVER change that. I want to spread that LOVE all the time, and especially at Christmas. My children will be getting gifts because I love them, not because they’re naughty or nice.

Using Santa as “the bad guy” just doesn’t seem fair. I don’t want to preach and teach, “If you’re good, THEN you’ll get stuff.” Children- at the age of believing in Santa- are not ever bad. If they’re at the appropriate age to believe in Santa, they’re never “bad enough” to never get gifts. Let’s face it- even if your kid is the biggest trouble maker, you’re STILL going to buy him gifts. Why waste your breath for 25 days, essentially, bribing your children? “If you’re good, then…” (This same theory can apply to dessert after dinner. No dinner, no dessert. You’ll eat when you’re hungry. I’m not going to coax you… I digress.) Can you imagine the uproar if parents really stuck to the “If you’re bad, no gifts” idea? Santa would be boycotted.

When I was a kid, Santa didn’t come either. Why? Cuz being a single mother, Ma simply couldn’t afford piles of gifts to split between “from Mom” and “from Santa”. Ma worked very hard for the gifts she was able to provide for my siblings and me, so she should get the hugs, kisses and thank yous, not Santa. I do remember one year when I was in junior high where I would’ve sworn Santa was real. It was a very rough financial year in our home and there weren’t many (if any?) gifts under the tree. Christmas morning we were all just being quiet when someone knocked on the front door. By the time we could answer, whoever knocked was gone but there was a ginormous bags of gifts left on the stoop. I remember Ma crying; she didn’t even know who it was from. After we opened the wonderful blessing, Ma made sure we knew that this was an act of kindness and generosity from someone, not Santa. Someone in our community (church? School? Neighbors?) gave us these gifts and we should thank God for them, not Santa. Christ’s love shown through the gifters and He deserved the glory. To this day, we only have guesses as to who the gifts came from.

So, Santa won’t be visiting our house. There won’t be presents under the tree from Santa. Now, don’t call me Scrooge or “that crazy Christian lady.” I don’t think Santa is a bad word or a metaphor for Satan. Santa will be fun, magic and make-believe, no different than Frosty the Snowman, Mickey Mouse or Super Heroes. Kids can grasp that those are fun and pretend, so why not Santa? (Note: The Easter Bunny will be the same. Except Tumnus will give RJ a basket.) We will take our kids to visit Santa and they can chat with him and take pictures. They’ll do the same thing with Mickey and Princesses over the years. If they can just love the fun, excitement, playfulness and pure childhood joy of those characters, Santa can be just the same. He doesn’t need to be the bad guy always watching them and taking presents off their stack if they misbehave. Santa can be a delightful part of Christmas instead of a cop. Mickey would never deny my child a high five if he just smacked his sibling. A Princess would still hug them if they threw a fit not 5 minutes ago. A superhero would still rescue them from a burning building even if my kid started the fire. Santa would still fill their stocking on Christmas Eve even if they cried all the way home from the church service.

Now, please hear my heart here: If your family does Santa or even that Elf on the Shelf thing, I’m NOT judging you. As Miley says, “Only God can judge us.” My friend Heather said it nicely, “The fact is that families are different. People are different, act different, think different and believe different things… these differences don’t make anyone right or wrong, just different. The difference of how Santa is treated is one great example of teaching kids how to respect the differences in others.” From the earliest age, my children may view Santa as pretend, but they’ll also know love, tolerance, respect, acceptance and friendship to all types of people no matter gender, race, orientation, and religion, Santa or no Santa.

And isn’t LOVE the point of this whole big holiday anyways?"

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Journey Home - Pt 1

Our church is getting ready to wrap up a 6 week spiritual growth campaign called "A Journey Home." Before we started the 6 weeks, I'll be honest... I was rather skeptical.  Why?  I don't know.  I just was.  But I know now that the skepticism wasn't of God or from God - at all.

To get why this has been such a big deal to me, my heart, and what I feel God has been tugging at my heart to do for nearly 2 years now, I need to give you a brief timeline of the last few weeks.  (This is going to take a few blog posts to accomplish.)

The first Sunday for "A Journey Home" was also the same weekend Mike and I took in our first respite care / temporary care of 2 little girls through a local non-profit ministry called Safe Families.  We wanted to work with Safe Families because we wanted to help make a difference in the lives of some kiddos.  (And honestly - to see if we were ready to have our own kiddos. To see if fostering to adopt would be an option for us someday.)  I haven't talked much about their visit due to their privacy, but also because it's taken a few weeks for me to process what that one weekend with those girls did to my heart.

The girls were 4 & 5 year old sisters whose family had fallen on some rough circumstances and for that weekend, felt they couldn't safely and adequately take care of their children, so Mike and I took them in.  We thought "hey - we've babysat our nieces, nephews and friends kiddos for a night" or "I babysat kids all through middle school / high school / college - watching a 4 & 5 year old for the weekend will be easy peasy." Let me just stop right there and laugh at myself.  If I could take back those thoughts, I would.  I type laugh today, but that weekend, I wasn't laughing; I was crying.

The first night the girls were with us, things went well.  (I was still thinking "easy peasy" at that point.) My favorite memory from the entire weekend was the first night.  The youngest sister approached Mike and I after playing with Crosley, and out of the blue asked, "When Crosley dies, will he go to Jesus?"  I was NOT expecting this little girl to know Jesus, let alone ask if my dog would go see Him someday.  So, curious me responded by asking, "Do you know who Jesus is?"  Her response brought tears to my eyes. She said "Yep" and then started singing "Jesus Loves Me."

Saturday morning was what I imagined a normal Saturday morning with two little girls in the house would be - food, cartoons, playing with the dogs, laughter, etc...  Late that morning we took them to a parade, and come to find out, it was their first time going to a parade!  The girls (with assistance from Mr. Mike) had a blast collecting all the candy in their goodie bags that was being thrown out from all of the floats.  They kept asking us, "Is this all really for me?!?!"  It was so much fun watching the excitement on their faces.

The afternoon was the first glimpse into the "real girls."  I say "real girls" because in hindsight, I've realized that the first 18 hours they were with us, they were on their best behavior and not being their normal selves.  Once they got comfortable with us, their best behavior went by the wayside.

Saturday night when we went downtown with our friends and their kiddos, even more of their normal behavior surfaced.  I didn't know if I wanted to cry or scream.  Honestly - I just prayed.  That was also when I started to realize what a huge difference their family life was from how Mike and I live, from how our friends we were with are currently raising their kids.  I also realized that after we corrected their behavior, there was no "I'm sorry" but always "I love you?"  That question mark is intentional.  They wouldn't state it but ask it.  That worried me.  I was NOT saying "easy peasy" anymore.  Instead, I was getting kicked, hit, spit and yelled at.  The youngest even yelled at me "I don't love you anymore!" when I made her go to bed.  I wasn't quite sure how to respond to her.  My gut reaction was to say "Good! You shouldn't love me anyways.  You just met me!"

Sunday morning we took the girls with us to church - the first Sunday for "A Journey Home."  They'd been promoting the 6 weeks for such a long time, I didn't want to miss it.  We took the girls to their respective Sunday classrooms, and then Mike and I went to the service.  The message that Sunday was titled "The Promise of Home." And how Pastor Steve started the message that morning totally caught my attention:
"As Christians, we're children of God, and yet many of us live as if we don't even know Him.  We live, we think, we act like fatherless orphans because we never truly have embraced our heavenly Father's love on a personal level.  Unfortunately, the storms and disappointments of life, well they've made us afraid to trust; afraid to let go; afraid to risk becoming vulnerable by believing God when He simply says, "I Love you."  I know that sounds overstated.  I know that it sounds maybe even confusing because some of you may say, "Well I know God loves me" but those are words that we speak so casually these days... "I love my dog, I love hamburgers..." We say those words so easily, but when it really comes down right to it, when we talk about a relationship of love, when we talk about a parents love for a child, that's the type of love, even beyond that, that God has for us.  And I think that for some of us, that's really difficult for us to comprehend because we don't love ourselves."

When Pastor Steve said "orphans" my ears perked.  The girls were far from orphans - they have a mom and a dad, but for the weekend, they kinda were.  Really, anytime I hear "orphan" mentioned these days, my ears perk.  When Pastor Steve said that we say "I love you" so easily, I thought of the girls again.  It made me wonder if they really knew what love meant, or if for them, it was just a word to try to get out of trouble.  I love I really like it when a sermon feels like it was penned by God just for me.

As we drove home from church Sunday, we asked the girls what they learned at church.  The oldest was proud to tell us "We danced and talked about Jesus!" YES!  The rest of the afternoon we made blanket forts, played games, laughed, colored pictures, read books - you know - normal little girl stuff.  (There may have also been a standoff in the kitchen over manners...) Sunday night was more realization of what a difference a stable, healthy family can make for a child.  It also left me questioning if hosting kids was what Mike and I were supposed to do.  I had envisioned hugs, laughter, love - not getting kicked, hit, spit and yelled at.  But then I remembered the sermon.  These sisters, for all I knew, didn't have a great home life.  They really didn't know the true meaning of love. That broke my heart and also is what made me change my mind.  If, even for just the weekend, Mike and I were able to bring them into our non-violent home, give them warm food, warm beds, CLEAN clothes, toothbrushes, hugs, laughter, but most importantly, an opportunity to learn about Jesus and His unconditional love, then we did our job.

That was nearly 5 weeks ago.  I have no idea what happened to those girls after I dropped them off to their mom that Monday morning.  I think about the girls all the time.  I decided not to let that one weekend stop Mike and I from opening our home to other children in need.  After all, we all yearn to have a place to call home.  There are THOUSANDS of kids out there who wish for the promise of home.  Mike and I are just waiting for a child to journey into our home forever.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

"All of Our Songs"

Have you ever come across something you had long forgotten about?  Something that when it was first given to you, it meant the world to you, but as the days, weeks, months, and years went on, it was set aside, and eventually stored away, and you forgot about it?

Mike and I have been doing a lot of cleaning the last few weeks - mainly in our bedroom to make way for the new night stands he built.  I had to clean out my old one, and in the process, I found something I completely forgotten about. My heart skipped a beat as soon as I saw it. Written on the white Memorex CD, in Mike's distinct handwriting, was "All of our songs."  It was a CD Mike had given to me when we were dating in college.  

I put it in the nearest CD player I could find and immediately was taken back quite a few years.  The memories of sharing these songs with Mike came flooding back.
John Mayer - Back To You
Frank Sinatra - Just the Way You Look Tonight
Allison Krauss - When You Say Nothing At All
98 Degrees - My Everything
98 Degrees - The Hardest Thing
Beatles - In My Life
Don Henley - This Love
Edwin McCain - Could Not Ask For More
Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
Michael W Smith - In My Arms Again
Paul Brandt - I Do
Savage Garden - I Knew I Loved You
Rascal Flatts - These Days
It's fun to sit and remember why each of those songs were important or special to each of us; how many of them ended up being a part of our wedding; how many of them, whenever I hear them today, nearly 14 years later (when we first met in college), still make my heart skip a beat.  
I love you Mike!!!

Monday, July 22, 2013


When you go to church, how often do you feel like you're really worshipping God during the service?  I'm not talking about just singing along with the words on the screen and lifting your hands because everyone else is.  I'm talking about real, true, pure, AUTHENTIC worship.  The kind of worship where you are so moved, you're in tears. The kind of worship where you literally get on your knees in reverence to God.  The kind of worship where you're hands are reaching out to God, and all you can do is reach just a little further to feel that much closer to Him.

I honestly feel like I can say that in my 32 years, I have only experienced real true pure authentic worship over the last few years.  That's sad, but it's my own fault.  I used to be old school and thought worship could only be accomplished by standing up in a pew and singing the same songs that I'd sung all the years before out of a hymnal. Come to find out, I really wasn't worshipping at all. (Gasp!) I was just singing the words because that's what you did at church on Sunday mornings.  How many of you can relate?

Yesterday was one of those Sundays where I witnessed and experienced real, true, pure, authentic worship, and it wasn't in your stereotypical church either (the kind with stained glass windows and a steeple) This church was in a night club and it was in one of the most un-Christian cities in America (ranked #9 by the Barna Group)  The coolest part? There were people from NYC, Atlanta, GA; Philadelphia, PA; Central Ohio, upstate New York, and a few people from other countries. (That's just who I got a chance to talk to during the 4 minutes of greeting time.  I know there were so many more there!)  The part that gives me Godbumps... they were all there not because they had to be, but because they wanted to be. 

Say what?

They were there because they wanted to be!  They were at church in NYC on a Sunday, when they could have been out shopping on 5th Ave, walking around Central Park with all the tourists, or in bed at their apartment recovering from the night before in Greenwich Village.  But they weren't!  They were getting their church on!

I'll freely admit during the first song I wasn't focused on the service... I was too focused on taking photos and getting the best shot. But once the first song finished, I realized taking photos was NOT the appropriate thing to be doing.  God opened the doors for me to finally worship at this church... keyword WORSHIP... not take photos.  So I put the camera down and started taking it all in, and I'm forever glad I did.  God knew I needed my worship tank to be refilled. 

One of the songs yesterday morning was "Closer" by Hillsong Live.  Take a listen:

As the chorus began, you could hear everyone start to signing louder, and louder, and louder.  It was beautiful!  People wiping tears from their face because they were professing to God that all they want to do is grow closer to Him.  Best friends hugging each other while lifting their hands in praise to God (not because everyone else was, but because they were literally reaching out for Him.)

The other song we sang, "Chris Is Enough" was also by Hillsong Live (surprise...)

They sang this right before the message and after the message. And as you heard "Christ is enough for me, Christ is enough for me" being sung, you realized it was getting louder and louder with the people singing louder with confidence and declaration.

The bridge "I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back... no turning back... The cross before me, the world behind me, no turning back... no turning back...." had people dancing on the floor and balconies with arms raised, hands over their hearts, and cheering. It wasn't a rock concert (which a lot of old school minds think today's contemporary worship is just a big 'ol rock concert) but a concert of praise and worship to God.  A real, true, pure, authentic worship service in the heart of NYC. God is so good. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Another Whisper

It's been awhile since I last wrote.  There's been a lot going on since I last wrote.  Did I say a lot?  I mean a TON!  But no matter what is going on in our lives, God always seems to whisper, "Hey you, I'm still here."

This last week I spent at Creation North East - a very LARGE Christian Music festival in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania with 9 wonderful people - 9 of my co-workers.

Festivals are always fun and interesting and they always leave a mark on my heart.  This year, it left a different mark.  The first few days of Creation, I saw a number of people walking around in t-shirts that said "LOVE" but instead of an "O" there was an outline of Africa.  I really liked the shirts and wanted to find out more, so when I got a few minutes I ventured up to the merch barn to ask about the shirts.  They are made by an organization called Krochet Kids International.  I figured since there was a giant print of Africa on the shirt, the organization helped somewhere in Africa.  Yep.  I was right.  Uganda is somewhere in Africa.  UGANDA!  I purchased a shirt for Mike and myself.

After leaving the Krochet Kids merch table, I started walking back to my work's setup at the festival and walked past the Operation Christmas Child table so I decided to stop and chat for a second.   Since returning from the Dominican Republic with OCC last December, there's a special place in my heart for that organization.  I chatted with the OCC staff that was there and they handed me an envelope of a picture from one of their recent distributions - a photo of a little boy gripping on to his shoe box in UGANDA.  I got Godbumps.  (aka Goosebumps but God arranged.)

I couldn't wait to tell a few of my co-workers about what had happened - one of which, I've now found out, has a very similar passion for Uganda.  It was just what I needed.  I needed a few more signs from God to let me know Uganda is not out of the picture for Mike and I.

Sunday afternoon, as we were walking into the airport in the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania, we noticed a group of people gathered together with balloons, cameras, a lot of inter-racial families (some very ADORABLE kiddos) signs that said "welcome home," and a bunch of smiles.  I looked at one of my co-workers just as we were both thinking out loud "I wonder if they are welcoming home an adoptee?"  We walked past them, through security, and into a place to eat.  But my mind was still wondering about that group.

Just as we were sitting down to eat, I noticed two ladies and a child walk past us - the child was waving a flag from Ethiopia.  I mentioned to my co-workers that I bet that child is going to the group waiting on the other side of security, so I walked over to the window in the restaurant that overlooked security and the group waiting to see if they would greet one another.  They did.  It was beautiful.  I had tears in my eyes.  I can only imagine the tears that were in the eyes of the people in that group... the tears in the eyes of the family who just welcomed home their newest family member... the happy tears in the eyes of God.  It made me want to jump on a plane at the airport and head to Uganda.

Thank you, God, for yet another whisper from you about Uganda.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Not Now

Mike and I attended our second information meeting with an adoption agency.  We also received our second "no" on adopting from Uganda through their agency.  (Both agencies currently are operating Uganda pilot programs and are currently closed to new potential families.)  And then I read my devotion for today: "Day 23: Not Now"  The devotion started off with this:
"When God says no to a prayer, it doesn't always mean no; sometimes it means not yet.  It's the right request but the wrong time."
I can't tell you how many times I've heard this phrase from various people in my life for different situations, and each time, they've proven to be correct because if we heard a "yes" instead of a "no" things would be different at this very moment.  Like I did at those times, I want to do right now.  I want to stomp my feet, cry, and scream at the top of my lungs, "WHY NOT RIGHT NOW?!?!?!?!"  but instead, I'm going to take that energy and put into prayer.  There's a reason and only God knows.  Mike and I'll just have to wait until He see's fit to let us know.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

God of Angel Armies

For 3 years now, I've been reading Sarah Young's "Jesus Calling" Devotional. Each day there is a different message, and I continue to be amazed, even though I've already read the entire devotional 2 times, that I can re-read February 5th today and have it speak to me completely different than it did on February 5 of last year.

"SEEK MY FACE, and you will find not only My Presence but also My Peace.  To receive My Peace, you must change your grasping, controlling stance to one of openness and trust.  The only thing you can grasp without damaging your soul is My hand.  Ask My Spirit within you to order your day and control your thoughts, for the mind controlled by the Spirit is Life and Peace.

You can have as much of Me and My Peace as you want, through thousands of correct choices each day.  The most persistent choice you face is whether to trust Me or to worry.  You will never run out of things to worry about, but you can choose to trust Me no matter what.  I am an ever-present help in toruble.  Trust Me, through the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea."

But it doesn't stop there.  After sharing today's devotion with my co-worker, she opened up her daily devotion from Go Tandem and the topic?  "Slacken My Grip."  (I'm getting the feeling God wants me to give up control of something...)

Both devotions referred to Psalm 46:
"God is a safe place to hide,
ready to help when we need him.
We stand fearless at the cliff-edge of doom,
courageous in seastorm and earthquake,
Before the rush and roar of oceans,
the tremors that shift mountains.
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.
River fountains splash joy, cooling God’s city,
this sacred haunt of the Most High.
God lives here, the streets are safe,
God at your service from crack of dawn.
Godless nations rant and rave, kings and kingdoms threaten,
but Earth does anything he says.
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us.
Attention, all! See the marvels of God!
He plants flowers and trees all over the earth,
Bans war from pole to pole,
breaks all the weapons across his knee.
“Step out of the traffic! Take a long,
loving look at me, your High God,
above politics, above everything.”
Jacob-wrestling God fights for us,
God-of-Angel-Armies protects us."
And after reading that, I had another "Are you serious God?" moment... because one of my favorite songs on the radio right now comes straight from that passage... a song that I've heard a few times already this morning at work - Chris Tomlin's "Whom Shall I Fear (God of Angel Armies)"

So today, I'm laying down what I think I'm having control issues over, and giving it all to God.  God's Angel Armies (including my nephew Sam) are always by my side.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Putting on Our Waders

Last Monday, my co-workers and I started a 40 Day Prayer Challenge with and for each other.  We're reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Mark Batterson, called "Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge."  With each day's readings there have been little nuggets of information I highlight in the book, and think "I need to remember that." Todays reading was the exception - I highlighted it all.  And, as always with God and me, it seems like I read today's readings at just the right time.

Mike and I went to lunch with some friends of ours today, and towards the end of the lunch, I shared where we were in the process of adopting from Uganda - that we're still researching which agency we are going to use, and that we don't want to rush into this.  I feel like I've been saying "we don't want to rush into this" for awhile now.  There obviously has been NO rushing, but there's also been NO movement on our part, except for the email inquiries I've sent out to a handful of agencies.  After we returned from lunch, I read today's reading in the prayer challenge, "Day 7: Put on Waders" and as some of my co-workers like to joke around and say, "BOOM!" 

Here are some of the sections I highlighted:
"God is honored when we act as if He is going to answer our prayers! And acting as if means acting on our prayers.... Don't just pray about your dream; act on it.  Act as if God is going to deliver on His promise." 
"If we want to see God move, we need to make a move.  If it seems like God isn't moving in our lives, maybe it's because we aren't moving.  But if we make a move, God will move heaven and earth to honor our faith."
"We're so close to the dream, so close to the promise, so close to the miracle.  But we're waiting for God to part the river, while God is waiting for us to get our feet wet."
I read these few lines and immediately was taken back to our lunch conversation.  We've been praying about the adoption, and God has made it very clear that it's what He wants us to do.  He made the first move by warming our hearts to the entire idea of adopting from Uganda, but now Mike and I need to make a move - we need to put on our waders, get our feet wet, and actually start the process.

The best way to summarize my feelings this very moment, Mark Batterson said it the best "...that first step is always the hardest and longest.  It will require the most faith.  It will feel the most awkward.  But if we step out in faith, signs will follow." 

Please be praying as we take our first big step.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Let's Do This!

It's been awhile since I posted about our interest in adopting.  For quite awhile, it felt like God was constantly poking Mike and I with little messages saying, "You need to adopt from Uganda!" but then it went dry for awhile.  I don't know how to explain it where it would make sense and not make me sound crazy.  We just didn't hear anything.  And we're not going to rush into adopting a child unless we know, with full conviction, that this is what God wants us to do.

While I was in California last week for work, a few of my coworkers asked me where we were in the adoption process and I told them just that, and then didn't think anything of it. (Cue: God)

Do you remember me writing about the festival I was at last August and the lady I met from Uganda?  (You can read the post here.) The morning after my friends asked me about our adoption process and I said I really hadn't heard anything from God lately, I got a message from her - in UGANDA. I couldn't believe it.  Well, I could believe it.  It's God.   He knew I needed a reminder that, yes, He does want Mike and I adopting a child from Uganda.  Reading her message quickly brought tears to my eyes.  I emailed Mike and I told him about it, and then told my coworkers that had been asking about adoption.  One of their responses, "Don't challenge God - he'll take you up on it every time!"

But it doesn't stop there.  Apparently God was making up for lost time and felt I needed not one, but two pokes from him, which I did.  Friday night was our staff banquet. Our company has started awarding a Community Service award to a listener who has made a difference, and this year the award went to 2 sisters, ages 8 and 10, who raised $25,000 for children in UGANDA!  As soon as Uganda was mentioned, my friend who was sitting behind me (same friend who was asking about the adoption process) grabbed my shoulders and squeezed tight.  He knew God just laid another one on me.

All of this to say, as we were leaving Friday night, I looked up to the sky with my arms in the air and said, "OK God.  OK.  Let's do this."

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Dominican Republic in Photos

As I've written these posts about my time in the Dominican Republic, it's been REALLY hard to pick out just a few things to share with you.  I want to write about everything that happened on the trip, I want to tell you about every child I interacted with and every morning devotion that Chris prepared for our team.  I want to tell you about all the children that forever stole my heart.  I want to tell you about the country that humbled me.  I want to tell you how God worked on my heart.  But I can't.  I can't put to words some of the things I saw and felt.  But I can show you through photos.

For my final post on my trip to the Dominican Republic with Operation Christmas Child, I wanted to share with you a little photo montage I put together with the photos I took on my trip.

It's never too late (or too early) to start "giving Christmas away" through Operation Christmas Child.

This video features the song "Give This Christmas Away" by Matthew West, (C) 2009 Simple Tense Songs (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) Wyzell Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) Songs For Delaney.