Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Can a Shoe Box Change the World?

Can a Shoe Box Change the World?

*Yes, this same post will be on both my blogs, just to make sure you read it! :)*

Yesterday marked the "2 months until Christmas" mark. If you're one of my Type-A friends, you probably already have your list typed and your budget set. You might even already have some gifts purchased. If you're like me, you've probably thought about what to buy for whom, maybe you've discussed it with your spouse or other family members. Or maybe you're a last-minute kind of shopper, who hopes to find some great deal on Christmas Eve. But no matter who you are, chances are that whatever you buy, no matter how great a bargain you get, those gifts are not going to change the life of the recipient. Two months from now, on December 26, we and our children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews/friends will resume our normal activities after the Christmas festivities are over. We might be excited over a new toy or book or purse or shoes. But we will simply add them to the already excessive collection of things in our lives, and continue with life as usual. But for a child in a poverty-stricken country, a shoe box full of gifts, full of hope, can change their life. And by changing the life of a child, you can change the world. And it doesn't take much! Through Operation Christmas Child (OCC), you can bless a child with gifts they would never otherwise receive. They may have never even had a Christmas present before. But what costs so little on our part, gives so much to those who have less than nothing. Besides the gifts you send, OCC also includes a kid-friendly booklet explaining the Gospel in each box. Entire families can receive Christ and have their lives changed by the power of the Gospel, all because of a shoe box.
So how does it work?
It's so easy! Just decide what age and gender child you want to bless, get a shoe box (or like-sized plastic container) and fill it with age appropriate gifts; things like school supplies, toothbrush and toothpaste, stickers, small toys, socks, hair bow/clips, soap, play doh, crayons, etc. Pack it all up, (you can include a letter and picture of your family!) decorate it if you want, attach the OCC label marked with age and gender, and take it and $7 to your local collection site. This is a great family activity that can easily become a favorite tradition. Let your kids decide age/gender, take them shopping and let them choose some of the gifts. OCC is a great way to teach kids about poverty, compassion, and generosity. The Bible commands us to care for the poor, the orphans, and the widows. If we are going to teach our children to follow Christ, this must be part of the lesson. I encourage you, I challenge you, I beg you!!!! Open your eyes to the world, open your hearts to the command of the Lord, and open your wallets to bless a child. Visit Read the stories. Watch the videos. Get a shoe box. Change the world.

Friday, October 21, 2011

What Life Will Be Like

I am an imaginer.  As in, I'm always imagining things happening in my mind, like a daydream, but about things that could actually happen.  Usually this is a bad thing.  I tend to imagine worst-case-scenario things, like a family member dying, like coming home to find my house has burned down, things like that.  (And my mother wonders why I always have nightmares!)  But now I have a different movie playing in my mind.  Now I imagine what it's going to be like having a third child...when we play baseball in the backyard, when I'm with Liana in the grocery store or the library, when the kids are goofing off at dinner, even after the 10th warning to sit and eat!  I imagine my little guy running around the yard, asking for candy in the store, picking his own books in the library, and being right in the middle of the goofing.  I imagine him in the backseat of the car, and how I won't be able to talk with him while I drive like I do my other two.  I imagine him watching tv and not being able to read the captions.  I imagine him playing Wii with his brother and sister and getting angry when Aedan wins...again.  But most of all, I imagine him here, with a family, loved, safe, and happy.  And I long for the day when this will no longer be only in my imagination.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Here we go!

Well, I've decided to make it official.  In case you somehow have not heard, our family has officially begun the adoption process!  For several months we have talked about starting, and for various reasons, just didn't.  But for more than a year we have had it in our hearts to adopt a deaf child.  We have sent in our application to Christian Adoption Services (CAS) for their Philippines program, with a request to the ICAB (Philippines government office) for a particular two-and-a-half year old boy named James.  Here's the story on how this all came to be:
As I said, for months we have talked on and off about starting the process, and during that time I researched multiple adoption agencies and countries.  (Adopting a young deaf child in the US just isn't really a big possibility for a number of reasons.)  China was out because of their strict financial requirements.  Bulgaria was at the top of my list for a while, with Ethiopia a close second.  A month or two ago we had a missionary at church to the DR Congo.  So I looked into that country, and even though it wouldn't work for us, I discovered the Philippines.  I called that agency in regard to their program, told the lady what we were looking for, and she said, "Funny you should mention a deaf child, because we have a new little boy on our list who is deaf.  But he has an older brother..." And she continued to tell me about them, even though I was fairly sure siblings were out.  But I now had a new country and agency on my short list.  A few weeks later I was searching around and found an orphanage for deaf kids in Liberia and an agency that worked with it.  Gave them a call and found out the Liberian government had stopped all international adoptions two years ago with no change in sight.  Shortly after that I was checking out that agency's website again, when I found that they also work with the Philippines.  So I called and asked about their program, and when I told the lady what we were looking for, she answered with, "Funny you should mention a deaf child, because I just saw a little boy who is deaf on a shared list (another agency's list)..." and she proceeded to tell me about him and asked if I would like to see his profile.  Now just to clarify, this was not the same boy as agency number one.  But one of my big delays in choosing a country was that I would decide and we would go through the process and not find any deaf children in that country.  Silly, I know, but still...two agencies, two different deaf boys...seemed like confirmation to me.  Jason also felt confident with that decision, so long story short, we got James's profile and medical info, and after a few weeks decided to pursue him.
Now what?  Now we fill out mountains of paperwork, we wait, and we pray.  Oh, and we fundraise.  As you can probably imagine, it's a rather expensive thing to adopt a child.  But we are already seeing God's hand of provision and we fully believe that he will provide all we need.  In the meantime, I'm sure you'll be hearing about different things we're doing to raise money.  And here's the first: since we are adopting a deaf child, and I am the only member of our family and friends who is (semi!) fluent in sign language, except for Jessica and Heather, I have decided to make my own ASL teaching video and sell it to all of you who want/need to learn to communicate with our newest addition.  It won't be anything fancy, but it will get the job done!  Please let me know if you would like to buy one! 
But most importantly, we need your prayers!!!  Prayers for speed of paperwork and other time consuming things, prayers for James while he waits in foster care, prayers for our family as adoption is a wonderful but stressful process.  And please pray for all the children who are waiting for families.  As you do, I pray the Lord will open wide your heart to a child who needs your love.