Tuesday, September 29, 2015

#AdoptionRocks: Part 1

I am so stinkin' excited about what's coming to my blog in the next few weeks! I cannot wait to share this little sneak peek with you today!

Over the last few years, I feel like my eyes have been opened and my heart broken for the orphan crisis in the world. While our family has started down the adoption path a few times to have God gently close those doors (for now...I'm persistent, friends!), I know He has called me (for now) to an advocacy role. He has asked me to use my voice and my Noonday Collection business to support other adoptive families who are pursuing both domestic and international adoption. When I work with a hostess for an adoption fundraiser show, I donate at least 10% of my commission from the show's sales to the family's adoption expenses - essentially doubling the donation made by Noonday Collection. THIS is my role (again, for now. Wink. Wink.).

As we approach #WorldAdoptionDay November 9, I am excited to be a part of a unique partnership between Noonday Collection and adopttogether.org that will (hopefully!) result in hundreds of thousands of dollars being donated to adoptive families around the country. 

But I wanted to do more with the opportunity presented this month. So, for the next few weeks, I'm featuring some amazing stories of adoption on my blog. Stories written by friends, and a few by complete strangers, that are amazing examples of faith and perseverance and obedience. Stories that I hope will inspire you and encourage you to ACT on behalf of the orphan (James 1:27, if you need a Biblical nudge.). Stories written IN HER OWN WORDS...

So, maybe you're reading this thinking, "What can I possibly do?" Well, I'm glad you asked because I have a few suggestions...

1) Pray. We can all pray. We can pray for discernment about our specific role, but we can also pray for the millions of children around the world longing to be loved. And the millions of families "stuck" in the adoption process and waiting to love them. We can pray for comfort and provision for these precious children until they are brought into loving homes. We can pray for peace, endurance and financial provision for the families working tirelessly to bring them home.

2) Be informed. Take time to connect with organizations that advocate for the orphan and make an effort to understand the current situation - not only in the big, wide world but in YOUR world. What are the statistics for your state? Your county? One of my favorite organizations is Show Hope and this is a great first bite into understanding the current situation. Being informed is also a great way to be an advocate for others and to speak truth and encouragement to others walking the adoption journey. 

3) Give. You can donate directly to an adoptive family, or you can participate in a myriad of creative fundraisers that most adoptive families use to raise funds: garage sales, t-shirt sales, direct sales shows (like Noonday Collection) where a portion of sales is donated to the family, crowd sourcing websites, etc... Every gift/purchase matters, dear friends. Don't dismiss your participation or support because it doesn't "feel like enough" - sometimes just knowing that there are people out there pulling for you and your family during this difficult and trying time means the most. 

Source: Show Hope
4) Consider fostering. This needs a post of its own as there are so many ins and outs involved in this process - many specific from state-to-state. But maybe this is where God is calling you -- to provide a safe landing place for a child who is waiting for his or her forever home. And you may find the foster-to-adopt option works for you and your family. Check your state's requirements and prayerfully consider this option. 

5) Adoption. This is not for the faint of heart, sweet friends. It is not a decision to be taken lightly or jumped into. As my guest bloggers will share over the next few weeks, there are so many factors to consider (and sooooo much paperwork. Sorry - that is NOT my jam!). I can't wait to share the beauty that comes in this process though! He is faithful in our  obedience!

So, will you walk with me through these next few weeks and read these beautiful stories of hope and redemption? Adoption is such a beautiful picture of salvation, and I think that's why my heart is so encouraged by its beauty. In my sin, I am broken and isolated and felt so unloved and unwanted. But God sent His Son to rescue me - to show me the ultimate example of love ALL FOR ME...and then lovingly, He took me in, with no regard for my past. He loves me through the anger and the hurt and the shame caused my past and continues to pour out His grace and mercy on me each day as we grow together in fellowship. 

Come with me on this journey. Enjoy these stories and prayerfully consider: What is YOUR role in the orphan crisis? Have you asked God what He wants and NEEDS you to do to bring HOPE to dark places around the world? Are you willing to ACT when He responds?

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Grace Like Rain

Well, it's been a minute, friends. Life has been a little crazy here in Walton World as we're navigating some new territory - figuratively and literally (more on that later!). If you've been waiting with bated breath for my next post, my apologies.

So, there's something God has been stirring in my heart recently. I've been in many conversations with dear friends about the various seasons of life we are facing and often find ourselves wrestling with. I've been encouraged by so much from these precious conversations, but also burdened by so much. I feel like God has put this on my heart to encourage others...here, specifically. 

It's about GRACE. Hold on tight, dear reader, and prayerfully read these next few paragraphs. At the end, if this word has encouraged you, will you share it? Will you pass along the link to a friend who needs it? Or share it on your social media? Because here's the thing - we don't know everyone's battle. What if it's your friend, spouse, family member or co-worker needs to hear this in their season of life?

On the realz: Sin is awful. It's THE THING that separates us from relationship and fellowship with the Holiest of Holies. It builds a seemingly insurmountable wall that creates distance and disappointment and discontentedness. And let's also be reminded here that ALL SIN IS THE SAME - there are no "little" sins or "big" sins in His view. My gossip and failure to set Godly priorities with my time is just the same as someone else's adultery or addiction. 

But GRACE, y'all. Grace is THE THING that restores that relationship, tears down that wall. Not working to do more or be more or give more or anything "more" - just with standing with arms outstretched in repentance allowing God's grace to pour down on us like an unexpected summer shower. Play in it, friends! Don't grab an umbrella and try to protect yourself from it. Don't run away from it and try to hide under the nearest shelter. Let it soak you slap to the core. Sticky clothes, crazy hair, running mascara, ruined favorite shoes and all. 

Why is it so hard to accept this grace He so freely offers? Why do we "protect" ourselves from it, oftentimes even running from it? 

My guess is that we have a really jacked up image of God's response when we come to Him with a repentant heart to confess our sins. I think we sometimes see Him responding like an angry wife who has just strewn her cheating husband's dirty laundry across the front yard for all the world to see as she pours out her hurt and wrath on him in a screaming - and very public - verbal assault. "There is it, people! All the things! You're a no-good, sorry, cheating excuse for a human being," she screams for all the world to hear.

But that's really not God's M.O. AT ALL.

So, let's just erase that image for a minute -- or forever. What if...

     * We see Him instead as Abba Father - our Daddy.

     * We see Him as a loving Father who allows us to crawl into His lap in the quiet of His study.

     * We see a gentle man who welcomes His wayward daughter/son into His arms.

     * We see Him as loving Father who already knows exactly what we've done, but LOVES US JUST THE SAME.

     * We see Him as a forgiving Father who corrects because He loves us too much to let us act "that way."

     * We see Him as a loving Father who guides us back to the right path out of deep and unwavering love for us and His sincere desire to not let us wallow in misery and shame any longer.

I've been there, friends. Oh, how I've been there. I've been in that nasty mud pit that Satan built to trap me, just wallowing in my sin and shame far too often and for too long. Covered in mud and cloaked in misery because I believed the lies that I'm not good enough, my sin was too big, my baggage to heavy, my future too bleak. 

Lies, sweet friends. All lies. Because it's not about what I've done (or will do!)...It's about what Jesus did. That is where this precious gift of grace comes from.

How precious are those moments in His lap! How tender and new are His mercies EACH DAY! I danced in it, friends! I danced in His abundant grace and felt the freedom. I let it wash over me...And because of this precious gift, I can dance in it EACH DAY!

So, today. Will YOU dance in the rain with me? Will YOU let His mercy and grace pour down on you? 

Amen. And Amen.