Monday, August 1, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
When we were at Passion Fort Worth back in April, there was a woman in my community group who was praying with her husband about adopting. The four of us spoke for a while after one of the sessions. I was SO excited when I received an email from her saying that they were starting the adoption process (yay!) and had decided to adopt from Ethiopia (yay!) through AGCI (yay!)! God works in such amazing ways. You can check out their blog at http://theyoungergang.blogspot.com/.
Also, for those who don't already know, you can click "Follow" near the top-left corner of the page to keep up with all of your blogs and read updates all in one place! It's VERY helpful. :)
Thursday, June 30, 2011
There are three stages to the adoption. We are in stage one - paperwork/homestudy (followed by stage two - wait list, and stage three - finalization/travel). For this stage of the adoption, we need approximately $9,300 to cover the agency fees and homestudy costs. This is such a huge and important hurdle to get over. After we pass this step, we will be able to begin applying for grants -- and trust me, we will be applying for EVERY grant we can find! The grants still won't cover the entire rest of the costs, but we will hopefully be a lot closer to our final goal.
Anyways, $9,300 is what we need for the first stage. Three months ago, I reported that Brandon and I were 20% of the way to our goal, and we would like to make it 100% by the end of the summer. We have really been working hard at making this happen. Brandon even was working a part time job for a while, on top of his full time job, until they were requiring him to work way more hours than manageable with his commitment to the church. We have been holding our "Hard ROC Cafes" to have opportunities for fundraising locally, and Brandon played a few times when we went to Texas earlier this month. We've also tapped into some funds that were set aside for other things. Since our first year of marriage, we have planned on going on a big cruise this year, for our fifth wedding anniversary. It was something that we talked about often and we got to the point where it was not just a wish, it was expected. However... how do you justify something as extravagant as that when our children are on the other side of the world, waiting on us? No cruise. I was definitely bummed, but it was an obvious sacrifice. We don't need a fancy lifestyle, new cars, or a flat screen tv. Brandon got our last tv at Goodwill for $30 and that bulky thing works great! And we will drive our cars until they explode... and maybe even after they explode. :) Point being, our priorities, and therefore our money, are focused on our children, and not on our own self-centered desires.
We've also had a handful of people send us donations, and WOW, we are blessed. Not because anyone handed us a check for thousands of dollars -- that definitely has not happened. Regular people who love God have decided to make their own sacrifices to care for the orphans in this world. Middle class families that don't have much to spare have decided to spare something in order to help those who are without homes and parents. It blows me away every time I open an envelope.
So where are we now? With our $9,300 goal in mind, we are at. . . . . . . . . . 88%! That is HUGE NEWS!!! We have almost met our first goal! Our God is always faithful and good, always.
Would you consider praying about making a donation to our adoption fund?
Monday, June 27, 2011
God said to "be fruitful and multiply the earth"... EXACTLY HOW ARE YOU DOING THAT?
This man's statement represents a huge problem in Christianity. Isn't that just like satan to manipulate scripture into satisfying our own selfish desires... to pull whatever string he can (even a "religious" one) to interrupt a time intended to glorify God? Brandon and I answered his question, and I'll discuss our thoughts below, but to him and others, it doesn't matter. Some people are so set in their ways that they can't fathom the possibility of another possibility. Guess what? While our society was sitting in it's nice, comfortable bubbles and just worrying about ourselves, 147 MILLION CHILDREN BECAME ORPHANS THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN. Which brings me to my responses...
- I personally cannot call myself a Christian and do NOTHING to care for the orphans. I cannot say that I follow a God who said himself that the greatest two commandments are to 1) love God, and 2) love people, and spend every penny of my money and every moment of time on myself. Selfishness. Is. Not. Okay.
- ORPHAN CARE IS GOSPEL REENACTMENT. When we bring children into our homes and make them part of our families and treat them just as if they were our own, we are mimicking the kind of grace that God showed us when he accepted us into his family, despite our flaws, despite our unworthiness.
- In reference to the scripture... this was God's command to Noah and his family to do immediately after the flood... when there was NOBODY on earth besides the eight of them. Being fruitful and multiplying was God's original design, and it is and ALWAYS will be a good thing. However, much like sin in the Garden of Eden, God's original design has been corrupted. Death, disease, poverty, famine all destroyed families and communities. Because of sin, innocent children became homeless and without parents. Are we as the church just to sit by and twiddle our thumbs? Absolutely not! (James 1:27) And what about those that can't have children? This argument is just ridiculous. Paul even said it is good not to marry if you can manage. How would someone who is following Christ and not married have children?
- I know through my 8+ years of working with youth and children at churches... often parents expect the church to teach their child how to be a Christian. In reality, the ultimate responsibility of teaching a child to follow Christ lies on the parents. Ephesians 6:1-4 says
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.Christians were never intended to aimlessly and irresponsibly fill the earth with people. We are called to fill the earth . . . with worshipers of Christ. Marriage is meant for making children. . . disciples of Jesus. (see this sermon for more details)
- If we, as Christians, are going to continue to pursue being super PRO-LIFE (as I believe we should), then we, as Christians, are going to have to become super PRO-ADOPTION. Those two issues go hand in hand. It doesn't make any sense to tell the world to not kill their babies, and then ignore the ones that are given away or that cannot be appropriately cared for. Most people in our country don't even consider adoption -- to them, keeping the baby or having an abortion are the only two socially acceptable options. And if they don't have means to care for a child?..... you see the problem here.
Even CNN has noticed this. In this recent article (which I don't entirely agree with, by the way), the author writes that in reference to adoption, Christians should either "put up or shut up". He also states...
In the United States, there are approximately 116,000 foster children waiting to be adopted. That means a judge has either severed the rights of the original parents or the parents have voluntarily signed their children over to the government.And HOW MANY denominations are there again??? Honestly, there should not be a single orphan in America... if not the entire world...
To put this into perspective, we might compare the number of American orphans to the purported 16 million Southern Baptists who attend more than 42,000 churches nationwide. Quick math reveals that there are roughly 138 Southern Baptists for every child in the American foster care system waiting to be adopted. To say it another way, this single denomination has an enormous opportunity to eradicate the orphan crisis in America.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Brandon will be participating in the Hawk Ridge Family Chiropractic Wellness BBQ on Saturday, June 25th from 12pm-3pm. Here is some information on the event:
Kids just need to have some fun! Community businesses are coming together to help local families! The first Hawk Ridge Family Chiropractic Wellness BBQ is going to be the hot item for June 25th from 12 to 3pm! All proceeds are going to the YMCA Strong Community Campaign. As many know the YMCA never turns anyone away due to finances and at hawk ridge family chiropractic we think that is amazing and want to help make that possible! There will be many businesses participating as well all giving donations! The list includes: Shop N Save, Petco, TitleMax, Starbucks, Tans 2 Glo, Subway, The UPS Store, Great Clips, Sonic, Red Robin, Pizza Hut, Coldstone, Borello Orthodontics, Juice Plus, Brandon Boatner, Wentzville Fire Department, and several others. There will be many family fun activities, as well as food, coupons, raffles, and health screenings, and all for free and open to the public! We feel there is nothing better than having some fun in the sun and helping our community at the same time! The address to the event is 6251 Ronald Reagan Dr. Lake St. Louis, MO 63367 and a contact is Kim Taylor 314-807-9017, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brandon will be playing his music, and I will be manning a table, selling tshirts and accepting donations for the adoption. Come out and see us, it should be a great time! :)
Click here to view this event's facebook page.
I realize that many of you have not heard Brandon's songs before, so the following is a few samples. You can find more on youtube under the user name "boat027".
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Francis Chan. Oh my goodness. I had read his stuff before, but I had never heard him speak. I was blown away by his passion and humility. He is probably the most humble person I have ever encountered. We had the opportunity to hear him speak twice, once in the corporate setting and once in our "small group" (made up of about 1,000 leaders). During the small group, Chan spoke about his life recently, how he felt God calling him to leave the church that he pastored, but he didn't have direction of what to do next. So what did he do? He traveled to Asia, of course, to spread the gospel! I LOVE that. Have down time? Pick up your wife and four kids and follow the Great Commission in the 10/40 window (least Christian area of the world). Wow. Then, after like six months, he felt God calling him back to the states, but he wasn't sure to where, so he went to San Fransisco to be near his aging mother, and spent his free time in homeless shelters ministering to them.
Then, Chan told us that just in the past week (end of March), he felt God tell him what was next. He told us about, and has since written, a book describing the biblical truths about hell. Chan was so heartbroken as he discussed to false teachings of recent times and the flat out lie that the bible says that everyone goes to heaven. I know so many people think that it's hateful and arrogant and judgmental to say that. However, I believe it's one of the most hateful and unloving things we can do to lead you to believe that there is no hell. Please check out this video if you disagree or if you'd like more information on Chan's new book, and I am more than willing to chat about this topic.
I took this picture from my ancient iPhone -- no zoom, we were in the front row.
Another thing that Francis Chan discussed was being lonely. He had been speaking to a mentor who told him, "Are you prepared to be lonely for God?" Chan sure will be feeling lonely and hated when he tells the unpopular truth about hell. Man, this question sure hit home for me. Last year Brandon and I moved 700 miles away from home, and it was lonely for quite some time. I regret that I did not use this time to glorify God as I should have, but instead I was selfish.
And currently, the question applies to us. We are often feeling lonely in this adoption. There are those in our lives who love us and encourage us and are thrilled that we are adopting. However, there are many, including a significant amount of our family, that would rather we not adopt. "Why waste the money and time? They won't be related to us anyways. When are you having your own kids? If you have to adopt, why can't you get some white kids from this country?" Sigh. Loneliness. However, we KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that GOD has called us to adopt. So, are we prepared to be lonely for God? Yes, we are. I just have to keep reminding myself of the truth.
ANYWAYS, other highlights from Passion:
John Piper. I know he's one of those guys that you either love or hate, but I love him. This was the third and fourth time that I have heard him speak in person(corporate gathering and small group). Two things really stuck from him.
One, he posed the question "What is at the BOTTOM of your priority list?" What he meant by that, was when you dig DEEPER and DEEPER, what do you really care about the most? When you think about the things that you do or the goals that you have, why do they exist? Then keep asking, but why?
For example... why are we adopting?
Well, we want to provide a home for children who have been orphaned.
Because we care deeply about them.
But why? (I mean, we've never met them)
Because we know a God who loves us and cares deeply for us, so much so that He sent His Son to die so we could be a part of his family. We want to follow that God and welcome children into our family, so we may be an example of the gospel and glorify God.
So when you keep digging, you find the true motivation behind everything that you do. For Christians, GOD should be at the "bottom" -- at the core of your decisions and passions and life.
The second thing that stuck out to me was his emphasis on scripture memorization. Ever since I aged out of AWANAS, I have really stunk at memorizing scripture. :) For real! It is SO important, though. Piper's church produced an app for that. It's called FighterVerses. I think it costs like $2.99, but it is worth every penny. There's one verse (or a short passage) to memorize per week, four different versions to choose from (ESV, NIV, KJV, and LBLA(Spanish)), quizzes on the verses, reminders to memorize... it's fabulous.
David Crowder Band. I just simply love this band to death. If you have never seen them live, you are missing out. Six guys, probably like 20 different instruments (from the regular ones to a banjo and fiddle to a Mac and a keytar and a GuitarHero controller), such range and talent and lyrical genius, it's ridiculous. I am so sad that they are disbanding after the fall! I already have tickets to see their farewell tour, although the closest stop is in Kansas... :)
And also... Chris Tomlin, Kristian Stanfill, Christy Nockels, Lacrae, Louie Giglio, and Charlie Hall. Awesomeness.
Thursday, May 19, 2011
We're still trucking along, raising the funds that we need. Our third coffee house will take place TOMORROW NIGHT at RiverOaks Church at 6:30, featuring bigPlanet, and it's their cd release party!
There are seven more days of school, so I know I'll be able to update the blog soo much more this summer. Please keep praying for us!
Oh my goodness, I never updated with the HUGE NEWS!!! Our expected adoption time is now.......... TWO YEARS! That's an incredible estimate, knowing that just since this spring our estimate jumped from 18 months to seven years. That was just a temporary estimate as the agencies were adjusting to Ethiopia's new requirements. Luckily things have sort of settled and are looking much shorter. Praise God! :)
Monday, April 4, 2011
We went to Passion 2011 Fort Worth this weekend, and WOW! I'll have to create a whole post for that soon.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
We are selling shirts for $15 each. If you can't make it out to a coffeehouse (or just can't wait) you can "order" shirts from Brandon or me at any time. For those that live locally, just let one of us know what you'd like, and we'll bring the shirt(s) to you. If you live elsewhere, send us a check or PayPal your payment, and we'll mail the shirt(s) to you. We'll be in Texas a few times over the next few months for different events, so get in touch with us and we may be able to deliver.
This week is spring break, and I've gotten several things done for the adoption! I've ordered several copies of each of our birth certificates and marriage license. I've also sent out a batch of letters notifying family and friends of our adoption and how they can help, and picked out our home study agency.
Our first fundraising goal is $9,300. That amount will cover our agency fees and home study. We are over 20% there! I'm hoping we will have raised that entire amount and completed the paperwork and home study by the end of summer.
I love how God continually puts people in our lives who have either adopted or are considering adopting. It happened again today. :) Even though the Ethiopian adoption time frame is questionable lately, and we're not sure if this adoption will take 18 months, 4 years, or 7 years, we're still continually assured that this is the path we are to take.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Featuring... Brandon Boatner!!
RiverOaks Church, 1163 Wentzville Parkway, Wentzville MO 63385
Free admission. Donations accepted for our adoption!! Hopefully t-shirts will be available. Maybe even a rough copy of Brandon's cd...
Hope to see you there!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
An Important Update
The Ethiopian Ministry of Women's Affairs (MOWA) has announced a proposal to decrease the number of adoptions they will process and approve—even by as much as 90%. They are planning to accomplish this decrease by limiting the number of approved cases to only 5 per working day. This change is currently set to begin on March 10, 2011.
Please know that no one fully understands this proposal yet. Our staff, led by Almaz in Ethiopia, are still sorting out what this could mean for each of the children and families that we work with. These children are their passion and they are working on the front lines in this advocacy. Also, this is not limited to AGCI. This will impact every agency and the families that each serve. This means that all agencies are working together in their advocacy making a very strong force that is working on the behalf of children and families. Currently, all agency staff are waiting for the Director of MOWA to return to Ethiopia. Once she returns they will have a chance to sit down and talk over the implications of this proposal.
To attempt to counteract this proposal, the Joint Council on International Children’s Services (JCICS) has put a “Call to Action” in place. This sort of international advocacy is what JCICS does, and they do it well.
We are strongly encouraging you to read their post below and follow the suggested steps. You can also share this with your family, friends, Facebook friends and church to do the same. It is so important that we are all united in this effort! We are all advocates in our own circles of influence—and it is good to partner with you in this!
Thank you again for all that you are doing at this time. You are all valued and important in this process of promoting and preserving the best interest of children in Ethiopia and around the world.
JCICS Call to Action
March 8, 2011
Joint Council: Emergency Campaign for Ethiopian Children
What You Can Do:
1) Sign the petition to the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Meles Zenawi – and pass it on!
2) Have you adopted from Ethiopia? Please send us up to 3 photos and 50 words or less with what you would like the Ministry to know about your child – we’ll compile the information and send a book to the Ministry of Woman’s Affairs. Send your photos and stories to email@example.com by Sunday, March 12, 2011 to be included. Please note that sending photos and stories gives Joint Council unrestricted right to use the information you provide.
3) Share…Please send this Call to Action to family members, other adoptive parents, and everyone you know! Post, forward and share your adoption stories via Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Make sure you include us in your posts so we can all hear your stories! Here’s links to our pages: Facebook, Twitter and our blog.
4) Stay informed: Get up-to-date information regarding the situation in Ethiopia by signing up to receive information from us: click here to do so, make sure you choose “country and issues specific information” and “Ethiopia.” And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and our our blog.
5) Help ensure our advocacy can continue: Joint Council is a non-profit and receives no government funding. Please join us in ensuring more children live in safe, permanent and loving families. Donate today!
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Featuring... Brandon Boatner!! (He's pretty good, if I do say so myself)
RiverOaks Church, 1163 Wentzville Parkway, Wentzville MO 63385
Free admission. Donations accepted for our adoption!! Hopefully t-shirts will be available. Maybe even a rough copy of Brandon's cd...
Hope to see you there!
Sunday, February 27, 2011
We have chosen an adoption agency -- All God's Children, International (AGCI)! We are very excited to begin this process with them. http://www.allgodschildren.org/
We have been pre-approved for adoption. That basically means that based off of the preliminary information that we have provided, they believe we will qualify for their program.
Next, we need to turn in our official application along with the application fee and a few other smaller things (pictures of us and our home, etc.) Within 90 days of receiving our application, we will have to pay for certain fees to the agency and pay for our home study -- totaling at about $9,300. God can do it.
We have some fundraising opportunities already in place.
- We are sending out letters to our friends and family to let them know about the adoption and what they can do to help (pray, give)
- We are creating this blog and adding a "Donate" button on the side so people can give online. If you are purchasing anything off of Amazon.com, there is also a link that will donate a percentage of your sale towards our adoption.
- Our church will be holding coffeehouses once a month, and all donations will go towards our adoption.
- We are going to be selling t-shirts at the coffeehouses and hopefully on this blog soon.
- Brandon will be selling his cd at the coffeehouses, and the new Christian bookstore in town "All About Love" will be selling them soon.
We're working on a few other things, but we need more ideas! If you know of a surefire way to raise money, please let us know!
There are many grants out there available to us (and we plan on applying for just about all of them), as well as low-interest and interest-free loans. However, just about all of those sources require our home study to be completed before we can apply for their funds. We are really praying that we can complete this adoption with very little debt accumulated.
Adoption has three major stages, or "trimesters" if you will. The entire process will last around 18 months or so.
1) Paperwork/home study
2) Placed on the wait list until we are matched with our children
3) Finalization/court/travel to Ethiopia twice to bring them home
We are in stage one! Each stage has its own struggles and joys. I hope you will keep up with us on our journey!
Us: "Hi! We would like to open an account."
Her: "Great, what kind of account would you like?"
Us: "We're not quite sure, maybe you can help us. We're adopting..."
Her: "You are?! From where??"
Her: *rummaging through her drawers, pulling out a picture* "THIS is my daughter."
We currently live in Wentzville, Missouri with the population of about 25,000-30,000 (around 90% white). Since we moved in June, we have met only one family who has adopted internationally. But here, in our bank, we are now sitting down with what we think has to be the ONLY person for miles and miles around who has adopted a daughter from ETHIOPIA... and they are in the process of adopting again.
We got to talking and she mentions that she lives in Troy, the town I teach in (which is around a third of the size of Wentzville), and there they are very good friends with another couple who has ALSO recently adopted from ETHIOPIA.
Then, a little while later, the other family that she mentioned happens to stop by the bank, and we were able to meet them and their children.
God is good.
We exchanged contact information, and I'm very excited about everything. :)
Monday, January 31, 2011
If you would really like to dive into what this means, and I highly suggest you do, I would recommend visiting www.togetherforadoption.org . Together for Adoption is a wonderful organization promoting a biblical understanding of adoption (God adopting us into His family), which naturally leads us to respond by doing something about the global orphan crisis (147 million children without families). I love how the founder puts it in a blog entry:
When we were on the outside without hope and home, Jesus brought us into his family (Ephesians 2:12-13, 19). What Jesus did for us is the Gospel.
Today there are millions of orphans in the world without hope and home. When we give orphans hope, when we bring orphans into our families, we reenact the Gospel.
When a church provides hope and homes to children lost in the foster care system, it reenacts the Gospel.
When churches create partnerships with other churches around the world in order to care for orphans, the Gospel is reenacted many times over before a watching world.
Orphan care is Gospel reenactment.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Why adopt? Because God has told us to. I can remember back when Brandon and I were first dating. We were nineteen years old, and I distinctly recall walking across the campus of SOSU one day and talking about how it would be neat to adopt "someday". Of course at that time, anything could happen, right? Children were so far away, but as we became more serious, we figured we would eventually have our own kids someday, and then later maybe adopt. That'd be cool.
I don't know exactly how it happened, but throughout the years God worked on our hearts. He pointed us towards international adoption vs. domestic, then towards Africa, then specifically Ethiopia. He told us to not limit ourselves to one child, but instead to imagine two. Many desire a newborn baby; we might have a preschooler. And with all of that specific direction and guidance, why attempt to start a family any other way? Our adoption will be first pursued. We have no way of knowing what is going to happen in the future. Maybe God will surprise us and I'll get pregnant. We know that He has been with us through all of this and more, so we have faith that He knows what He is doing. :)
Through this time, God has placed so many precious adoptive families into our lives, especially through HSBC. These people completely reinforced God's calling in our lives. Some people have told me that they have never seriously considered about adoption because they don't know anyone who has ever adopted. I praise God that I cannot say that. With 147 MILLION ORPHANSin this world, and with God commanding us over and over again to care for the poor, care for those who can't care for themselves, and yes, even care for orphans, I pray that you would personally know dozens and dozens of people who have responded to God's call.
James 1:27 "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."