Friday, January 30, 2015

Friday footprints

Teens Interceding for Orphans (TIO)

Over the past month or so, the TIO blog has posted a series based off of Matthew 6:21, " For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."  This series is well worth checking out, slowly perusing and praying through as you consider if you heart - and treasure - is where God would have it.

Deeper Christian

Even though the Christmas season has come and gone, we found this article, Death in the Midst of a Christmas Birth, by Pastor Nathan Johnson to be a good read, sharing Scriptural truth and pointing to Christ. 

May the Lord bless you in 2015 as you seek Him!
Joanna, Megan, Krista, Emily & Victoria

Friday, January 23, 2015

Sisters of the Faith: Monica

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Today we're happy to share with you an interview we did recently with Monica, team member with the Teens Interceding for Orphans (TIO) website.  Join in the conversation as we get to know Monica a bit and talk about her passion for adoption and orphans and how we can join in on that.

Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to know Christ.

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I'm a recent college grad and newlywed.  My husband and I live in South Florida, where I teach music lessons, blog, and freelance edit.  I grew up in a Christian family and accepted Christ at an early age, but it wasn't until I was a teenager that I began to think about what that really meant and how being a Christian should affect my life, my attitudes, and my actions.  I went to a Christian college and struggled through some tough issues regarding my faith there, but I came out stronger as a result.  Today, even though I still have doubts and fears, I am daily learning to lean on Christ and His love and strength, no matter what the circumstances!

How did you became interested in adoption and orphans?  What has that journey looked like?

I have wanted to adopt from a very young age, although I can't remember now where that passion came from.  I have always been drawn to the image of God adopting us into His family, and I deeply desire to make that image a part of my family as well.  As a kid and teenager, this passion found an outlet in supporting children through Compassion International and eagerly soaking up stories from mission groups that worked with orphanages.  Now, as a newlywed, that passion has formed more concrete steps--having discussions about adoption and foster care with my husband, starting an adoption savings fund, and doing tons of research on adoption laws and requirements.  My husband and I both feel led to build our family through adoption, and I can't wait until God opens the doors for us to do so!

Why did you join Teens Interceding for Orphans (TIO)?  What's your desire in being a part of TIO?

I found out about TIO through a Facebook post from Do Hard Things.  The word "orphans" caught my eye, and I clicked through to Leah's website until I found a post about getting involved.  I told Leah about my passion for adoption and told her that if there was anything I could do to help her, I'd be willing.  To my surprise, she wrote back and asked me to take on the bi-weekly Advocate and Pray posts.  I was thrilled to have a concrete way to help!  My desire in working as a part of TIO is to draw attention to the millions of orphaned children around the world so that, through prayer and raising awareness, many of them might find forever families.  More importantly, I hope that many young adults will be drawn to the idea of adoption, if not for themselves, then by supporting those who choose to adopt through prayer and financially.

Are there any books, resources, and so forth that you would recommend to aid us in gaining a heart for orphans and adoption?
WhitsonLife is a great resource--it's a blog about adoption and foster care, created by a couple who has been there, which features personal stories about the struggles and joys of adoption.  I also have several books about adoption on my reading list, although unfortunately I haven't gotten to them yet!  I've heard good things about "Make Me a Mother," a memoir about the adoption process, and "Adoption is a Family Affair," which explains to family and friends of adopting parents how they can provide support.

What are some ways that we, as young women, can get involved in serving orphans and helping in adoptions?
Like we talk about in the Advocate and Pray posts on TIO, there are two incredibly important aspects of supporting orphans and adopting families: prayer and advocating (or raising awareness).  Just by sharing these waiting children's stories, you are giving them a greater chance of finding a family who will love and care for them, and raising awareness for the number of other children who are still waiting for their forever families.  There are also sponsorship programs and adoption fundraisers which you can donate to if you are able (we've recently featured Sarah's Covenant Homes and Watoto).  If you know someone who is in the process of adopting, be aware that they are probably going through a gamut of emotions--fear, excitement, frustration, joy, grief, impatience, and more.  Every adoption journey has its own trials and heartaches, and offering encouragement to the adoptive parents who are walking that road can make a big difference.  You don't have to know their whole story to offer them some words of encouragement and pray for them. 
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Monica is a former homeschooler and a recent college graduate with a BS in Music Education. She currently lives in Florida with her husband, where she teaches private music lessons and does freelance editing. She maintains a book review blog called Newbery and Beyond, as well as contributing to Teens Interceding for Orphans.  She and her husband hope to adopt at some point in the future, with God’s provision.

Friday, January 9, 2015

lessons from the missionfield

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Some of the most important life lessons that God has taught me have been ones gleaned from the mission field and being involved in missions over the past decade.  Whether big or small, joyful or pain-filled, I wouldn’t change them for anything, because God delights in bringing good out of circumstances that seem to the human eye to be “bad.”  In fact, it’s often the hardest, most painful lessons that turn out to be blessings in disguise!  So whether I viewed them as “good” or “bad”, I’ve come to cherish them, especially in the ways that they brought me closer to Jesus Christ.  Here are a few of these lessons:

There’s more to the world than me and the sooner I learn that, the better!

At 13, I took my first trip out of the country.  It was my first mission trip and my first glimpse outside of the “American bubble” that I had grown up in.  God used this trip to pop my bubble, so to speak, and open my eyes to the hurting, needy and lost of the world.  I went from a 13-year-old mostly focused on herself and living in her own little world in wealthy, spoiled USA to a 13-year-old passionate about sharing Christ and His love and truth with the world around me.

Flexibility can come any time of the day or night and in practically any size or shape!

Flexibility doesn’t pick a convenient time or place.  I learned that for the first time in Romania ten years ago when my mission team leader talked about us having plan A, plan B, plan C, and Plan D and then ending up doing Plan E, which wasn’t one of our options at all!  This character quality also popped up when we got ready for a day of doing some church work and instead getting sent out to do house-to-house visitation to share the Gospel.  Or when I really couldn’t stand the food item on my plate but had to smile, say “thank you” and eat it anyway.  These times taught me to keep my expectations on Jesus and Him only, praying for Him to work as He would.   

I came to appreciate Isaiah 55:8-9 because it reminded me that He really does do things differently than I would: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord.  “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”

Personal suffering, injury or illness doesn’t mean you must stop doing God’s Kingdom work.

While I was doing missionwork in Taiwan for 1.5 years, I experienced some of the worst suffering, injuries and illnesses of my 24 years of life.  I spent way more time in doctor’s offices, the ER and the hospital than I had ever imagined.  I became adept at understanding certain medical terms in Chinese and knew to respond to my Chinese name when called in the waiting room.  The week my sister came to visit me after her own month-long mission trip on the island, I was very sick with dysentery.  I could go on and on with various illnesses and injuries I endured, but I won’t. 

The reason I share this is because ironically enough, the time I was the weakest physically, had lost weight, and could barely go 30 minutes without rushing to the bathroom was the time that God gave me the most open doors in ministry!  Humanly speaking, I should’ve been taking my meds, resting and not doing much of anything but God doesn’t always work that way.  Instead, He opened up a door to minister in a Buddhist orphanage, visit a new village on a weekly basis, catch up with former students, participate in a book study with fellow believers, share Bible stories in another village every week, and many other opportunities.  The opportunities just kept coming and God kept opening the door wider and wider – all while I was so sick and weak.  But I found out in this time, that when I am weak, then He is strong (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

are you willing?

2015 is just a few days in and I find myself wondering what it holds.  What will God call me to next?  Where will I travel, who will I meet, what will I experience?  What exciting adventures await?  What hard trials will I endure?

As I contemplate all these things for the new year, I realize that while it’s fun and kind of exciting to daydream about the future and what’s in store, what’s more important in 2015 is who I have my eyes on.  Will I choose to focus on myself, on my needs, on my wants, on my dreams and happiness as the Disney movies show?  Will I pour my energy, my time, my resources, my heart into fulfilling what I want?  Will I ignore the lady begging on the street corner, the victims of a natural disaster, or the girl my age who needs a listening ear?  

Or will I choose to lift my eyes off of myself and focus on my Savior?  Will I seek Him through prayer and His Word, choosing the “narrow gate” (Matthew 7:13-14)?  Will I look to Him for all my needs, trusting Him to fulfill them in His timing and in His way instead of rushing through on my own?  Will I truly live out Matthew 6:19-21, that says "for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" and put my treasure and heart in Christ Jesus?  Will I pour out my life as an offering for the One who gave it all for me?

The new year is here, and you and I have a choice to make.  We can choose to focus on ourselves, which may bring temporary pleasure but never bring lasting fulfillment or we can choose to focus on our year around our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ who is the only one who can bring lasting fulfillment.  But more than that, He is the very Redeemer of our souls and has rescued us from our sin and shame.  He has redeemed us and wiped us clean from the griminess of our "old self" (Romans 6).  He is to be our very life!

A quote by D.L. Moody says it well:

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Dear sister, are you willing to do just that in 2015?