Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fundraising update

I haven't updated you all on the fundraising in about three months, so here it goes. :)

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

Marriage is meant for making children...disciples of Jesus

Earlier this month Brandon and I traveled back to Texas, visiting family and friends and attending Brandon's sister Holly's high school graduation. While we were there, Brandon was given the opportunity to speak about the adoption at the church he grew up in. He played several songs, preached about following God's will, and linked the topic to us adopting. At the end, Brandon asked if there was anything I would like to add, and I asked for prayer for many different things relating to the adoption (preparing us to be parents, guidance and wisdom for the adoption agency employees and the Ethiopian government, comfort and hope for our children who are likely already born and going through difficult times - including possible illness, death in the family, and/or abandonment, love and compassion from the orphanage caregivers). As I was speaking, a man in the front row raised his hand. A bit confused, Brandon called on the man, who asked the following question:
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.

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.
And HOW MANY denominations are there again??? Honestly, there should not be a single orphan in America... if not the entire world...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Opportunity to support the adoption and hear Brandon's music

**update below**
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,

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

Passion FW

So, back in April, Brandon and I traveled over a quick weekend to Fort Worth for Passion 2011. WOW. For those of you that are not familiar, Passion Conferences have been around for about 12 years and are aimed at college students, with incredible speakers and musicians. I was blessed to be able to attend one of their conferences, OneDay 2003 in Sherman. Here's a few of this year's highlights for me:

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.
But why?
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.