Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blissfully Unaware

This time last year we were cruising the Caribbean
 with our friends, completely unaware that God was about to flip
our world upside down with a journey of adoption from Ethiopia! 
Ever read something and thought to yourself, "Man, I wish I could write that well! That's exactly what I would say... except it wouldn't sound nearly as cool!"?

Here's just that .... a post by Heather Hendrick that I read the other day and can't seem to get off my mind. I feel like while her story is different than mine, the overall gist of it screams my heart and what I wish I could put into words!

So instead of trying to put my own twist on the same thought (and not doing it nearly enough justice)... I'll just let you read her post and simply say, "Agreed!".

But just in case you don't venture over to her blog to read it for yourself (which I simply think would be a shame), let me leave you with her well put wish for all for 2011- that again, I couldn't have worded better and is my wish for all that read our blog as well...

In this moment...
Blissfully unaware that we would ever adopt our second child
OR that we would experience God's presence in our lives
like never before... I'm learning to LOVE the unexpected!
For this upcoming 2011: 

"May it be unexpected. Richly and wildly unexpected. May God write fantastic words into your story this year. Words that would terrify you if you heard them today... words He is powerful enough to speak into existence and powerful enough to sustain." 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Exalting Our Inability

I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of our savior! We sure did! From family visits from Grams (Joshua's mom) and Uncle James (his brother), to time spent with my whole side of the family that lives near by, we were able to be with the ones we love, and truly remember why we celebrate His birth every year! This was the year that Jude fell in love with Christmas and all the excitement that comes with it! He loved singing Happy Birthday to Jesus and he also loved that because it was a "really BIG birthday celebration" that a whole bunch of gifts were included! He's totally at the age (3 1/2) where the pure joy of getting a present can hardly be kept inside him, he dances (like he's about to pee his pants) and jumps around as a means of letting some of the excitement out. As a parent, it is such fun to see his eyes light up and I noticed at the end of day, my cheeks hurt from constantly smiling- because it's impossible not to! Here's our sweet boy, Jude, opening up his present from Uncle James...

And while there's no video of me squealing in excitement over the gifts I received, I sure felt a lot like Jude! Joshua got me an "I" for Isa for my necklace that I wear all the time that has two "J"'s on it already. I'm not much of a jewelry girl but when I saw this Waxing Poetic stuff at a boutique in downtown McKinney a couple years ago, I fell in love with their signet charms. So two years ago Joshua got me the little "j" for Jude on mothers day and then he got me the big "J" for Joshua on my birthday and now I'll have a little "i" to go with it! My whole lil family around my neck at all times!

He also got me the book Radical by David Platt which we started reading on Christmas Eve (I read out loud to Joshua while he wrapped all of Jude's little stocking stuffers- a good set up if you ask me) and we  could hardly put it down! We're over half way through it already and I have highlighted almost the entire thing! An excellent read if you ask me that I would highly recommend to believers and non-believers alike! Time and time again I'll read something and pause to look at Joshua and we both just shake our heads in amazement that this book totally reminds us of where we're at in our lives right now in this whole adoption process!

"God actually delights in exalting our inability. He intentionally puts his people in situations where they come face to face with their need for him. In the process he powerfully demonstrates his ability to provide everything his people need in ways they could never have mustered up or imagined. And in the end, he makes much of his own name."

The above quote pretty much sums up the Helms family adoption journey so far! We clearly are out of our comfort zones... He clearly is in His! But strangely, there is a peace about our lives and our inability to accomplish so many aspects of this adoption like we've never experienced before! The past 6 months of our lives, God sure has been making much of his own name!

"The question for us, then, is whether we trust in his power. And the problem for us is that in our culture we are tempted at every turn to trust in our own power instead. So the challenge for us is to live in such a way that we are radically dependent on and desperate for the power that only God can provide."

I would challenge you to live in such a way that you are desperate for God, seeking His will for your life, and trusting that He is able! Our lives have been rocked by this dependancy on Him and we wouldn't have it any other way! This Christmas we were reminded of the humbling truth that God came down to where we are as a vulnerable baby and that He doesn't wait for people to find their way to him, but instead he came to us... as Jesus. Because in our own ability, we never would be able to get to God- we are desperately in need of a savior, Christ!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A great video

Merry Christmas all! They showed this video tonight at our Christmas Eve "Eve" service.... thought it was pretty creative and spot on for how the announcement of His coming would look in today's time...  Happy Birthday Jesus!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Battle of the Bands Success!

I don't have much time to write right now, seeing as how there is socializing to be done because Jude's bud, Uncle James (Joshua's brother), just flew in today for a Christmas visit - but I wanted to give ya'll a quick update on last night! (Read the post below if you're unsure to what I'm talking about). 
The Battle of the Bands- Christmas Edition, hosted by McKinney High School's Club 2412, was a hit! We were able to raise just under $600 to go towards the $700 goal of sponsoring one child for an entire year through Project 61 to help a kiddo get out of the trash dump in Korah! One more small fundraising event and we've got that sponsorship in the bag!
I sat there last night in the back of the venue with a smile on my face- so proud of my hubs and so proud of all the students who showed up to give of their time and talent! From the kids who are part of Club 2412 who put so much of their time and energy (and baking skills) into hosting the event, to the kids who were in the bands and gave up their Friday night to play for us, to all the students that came out in support of the night and bought tickets... the room was filled with youth that desired to make a difference in a child's life over in Ethiopia!
We had such fun and look forward to making this an annual event!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Proud of my hubby!

I'd just like to take a minute and brag on my hubby. Truthfully, I have a lot to brag on him for- he's a pretty amazing man, I mean- he puts up with me, so that in itself says a lot!

Ever since we began this journey of adoption, God has worked on both Joshua and I's hearts in different ways, yet with the same end result... our heart being broken more and more for the things that break His. Joshua, being a guy, tends to not be nearly as emotional as me and would lean more towards seeing the factual side of orphan care. "There's a problem, it needs to be fixed, what are we going to do?"- type outlook.  I'm grateful for this, because we balance each other out- if he were wired like me, we'd both be a big ball of dramatic tears that never got any sleep because we'd lay in bed worrying about everything all night long. I can get so wrapped up in watching a "gotcha day" video (here's a classic one that gets me every time!) that my throat will physically ache from fighting back tears (and why I fight 'em I don't know, because they ALWAYS come anyway) and I'll walk out of the computer room with red splotches all around my eyes. I swear I torture myself, but I can't stop watching! Truth be told, Joshua tends to walk away when I'm watching an emotional video, because unlike me, he'd rather not cry.

Well, several months back, I suckered him into watching this video about Project 61 and the work they were doing in Korah (a trash dump outside of Addis Abba, Ethiopia). Joshua stood behind me watching this while I sat in the computer chair and as I turned around after the video was done playing to look at him, his eyes were filled with tears (as were mine- a given!). Classic Joshua style, he came up with a solution!

As most of you know, Joshua teaches AP World History at McKinney High School. We have been blessed and amazed to see how the youth of today truly desire to make a difference and do good around the world. We personally have been blessed by students of his in our journey to Isa and have simply been in awe of their creativity, generosity, and heart!  So Joshua got to thinking...

He decided to start and sponsor a club through MHS called 2412 (named after Proverbs 24:12 "Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act."). The goal of the club was to gather students who were passionate about orphan care and to help sponsor at least one child from Korah through Project 61. Well this Friday night, Club 2412 is hosting it's first big fundraiser event, Battle of the Bands- Christmas Edition! There will be 7 bands from MHS that will playing great Christmas music and tickets are only $5 each- with 100% of ticket sales going towards sponsoring a sweet kiddo! We're hoping and praying that all 150 tickets sell which would cover the cost of one child's sponsorship for an entire year! The prep work for this night has been entirely student lead and I think they'd agree, quite the learning experience of all that goes into hosting an event. They've done a great job of going around to different restaurants and asking for donations for desserts and refreshments that we can offer during the night and they've been busy this week selling tickets during their lunch hour- and I'm confident that it's all going to turn out great!  If you're local and you'd like to come, we'd LOVE it! Shoot me an email and I can set aside some tickets for you! I would be so grateful if you'd be willing to say a little prayer for the night as well, that #1. all the tickets would sell, and #2. that God would use this night in big ways in those who are coming and possibly move more hearts to take action and love as Christ calls us to!

All this to say, I'm so proud of my hubs for thinking of a creative way to make a difference! Not only will a needy child be sponsored and given hope, but several of his high school students are able to make an eternal impact too and hopefully continue living a life of making a difference in this world! I'm so grateful to serve along side of this man!

The video that inspired Joshua to take action:

Ordinary Hero~ A day in the trash dump in Ethiopia from Kelly Putty on Vimeo.

And here's another video on Korah...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Our Journey so far

We are in the process of applying for a Matching Grant from Lifeong for Orphans. One of the things it asks for in our application is our "Adoption Journey". I just finished writing it up tonight and thought, while many of you already know our story, there still might be some of you that don't. So here it is... 

Adoption Journey:

I guess our adoption journey technically began back at the end of April ’10. Joshua and I were just finishing up a study with our small group from church called “Becoming a Good Samaritan” by Michael R. Seaton. The study had really been tugging on our heartstrings with the simple truth that we had heard our entire lives of Loving God and Loving Others… but for some reason it resonated on a deeper level with us this time. It was about this same time too when talk of baby #2 started to surface and if we were going to start trying again or not, but there had NEVER been mention of adoption before. Not because we were against it, simply because it just never had crossed our minds. I loved being pregnant with Jude and quite honestly was looking forward to pregnancy again. BUT God showed up with different plans and our hearts were un-expectantly burdened… heavily… for adoption! It took us both completely off guard! So we began to pray, “God, if this is from You and this is what You’re asking of us, make it clear!”. And boy did He! Scripture after scripture (that we had never even really noticed before) confirmed God’s heart beat for the orphans. And it became crystal clear that if we were going to love God and love others well, then what better way than to love a child who needs a mommy and daddy!

The short of it all is that we decided to step out in faith, sometimes in fear, and be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s leading. This was, and is, completely uncharted territory for the both of us and has been God-lead from day one. We have desperately sought His guidance and have watched Him show off in ways we could have never imagined. From the beginning the financial aspect of it all quite honestly freaked us out! I’m a stay at home mom and Joshua is a teacher, which speaks for itself! Our budget is tight, there’s no wiggle room for setting aside chunks of money! We knew that to the outside world (and even to us at times) it would seem crazy to be taking on such a huge financial commitment. BUT we knew that God was saying, “Do this, and trust ME”, so here we are! In just the past 6 months God has blown us away at providing over $16k to meet every fee we have had due at the exact time we’ve needed it! He is providing through generous people and circumstances and opportunities to accomplish His work and we are humbled and in awe of how He’s orchestrated it all! We truly feel like as long as we do our part and bust our booties to think of every creative avenue possible for us to fund bringing our baby home, than He’ll bless us for our efforts. There is no doubt that God’s name is all over this journey, and our prayer is that we will tell His story well in the process, giving Him all the glory!

We let go of any agenda we had for how this process was going to unfold from the very beginning- because that’s just it… it was NEVER our story to write; it’s always been a story God was writing. We’re just along for the ride. Oh the freedom in letting go of our plans and hanging onto His! What a far better story He offers than we could ever come up with! 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Conversation with Jude

Today, while in the car running errands with Jude, we had a conversation about Isa that went a little something like this:

Me: " Oh Jude, I meant to tell you... a girl that used to work for mommy before you were even born got a hold of us the other day out of the blue and said she wanted to help us bring Isa home! She's helping by being super generous! God is so good at providing every thing we need, isn't he?" (Another God story I'll share later as it continues to unfold)
Jude: "Yep!" said enthusiastically. Then a pause... "Wait, before I was born?" (As if he just realized life existed before he joined us)
This is where the conversation took a turn from what I originally intended and centered on the "before you were born comment". 
Me: "Yes Jude, before you were born. Mommy and Daddy use to work at that camp we've told you about, remember?"
Jude: "Yeah, when you were a lifeguard, but I wasn't with you." (I'm hoping he doesn't think we left him behind or something?!)
Me: "Yep, and then once we moved here to TX, you were born! And then life as you know it has been happening ever since!"
Jude: "Oh." said in his thinking tone. Another long pause..."Isa isn't born yet, that's why he's not with us?" He's overheard us talk about that before, so I'm guessing that's why he asked this.
Me: "You're probably right bud. But we can still pray for him while he's growing inside his birth-mommy's belly, and we can pray for her! And we can pray that he comes home really soon after he's born!"
Jude: "But you're going to be his mommy and daddy is going to be his daddy and I'm going to be his big brother, right?"
Me: "Yes. Sometimes birth-mommies can't keep their babies for different reasons. We don't know yet why Isa's birth-mommy can't keep him. Maybe she's sick, or maybe she doesn't have enough food or water to take care of him. But for whatever reason, Isa is going to need a family, and we're it!"
Jude: "So she's sharing Isa with us because she's so nice?" said in the sweetest voice ever.
Me: "That's exactly right bud! She is sharing because she loves Isa enough to give him hope and a future"
Jude: "I like her."
Me: "Me too."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Normal Love

We just finished up a wonderful visit with Joshua's mom, better known as "Grams", this past weekend. She was able to come in from Atlanta to celebrate Christmas a little early with us. I'm so thankful that Jude has so many loving family members in his life and has the blessing of growing up with them surrounding him! Grams loves on him, plays with him, bakes with him, buys him fun things, and does what all grandparents do- lavishes her love on him! I can't wait for the day that Isa will experience this kind of love too! Jude thinks it's completely "normal" to be loved on so much. He knows, and frankly expects, that Bubba (my mom) will act excited every time when he shows her one of his new super hero toys and that she'll kiss his cheeks, hug him, and love on him... every time!  He assumes that everyone has a Papa (my dad) who let's them play their guitars and jump on the couch when they visit, it's just a given. Jude also thinks the norm is to hang out with his aunt and cousin almost every day! He pretty much considers Aunt Phoebe as his second mama, and Jake, his very best friend (but he'll always add when asked, "Jake's my cousin too!")... and that's completely normal to him! Jude was disappointed this morning when he realized he missed "Unca" Scott dropping off Jake for the day. "Mom! Who dropped Jakey off this morning?!" Me, "Uncle Scott did bud, but you were still sleeping." Jude, "Aww, mom! (in a teenage attitude tone)... I didn't get to see him! Wake me up next time!". Then, in a couple weeks we'll have "Unca" James (Joshua's brother) coming in town from Atlanta for a visit as well. And while Jude hasn't spent a ton of time with James (due to distance), mark my words that I'm confident the house will be loud, full of boy noises,  and fun play time between the three boys all being under one roof! Again, the love that surrounds this kiddo is what is normal to him and I'm am oh so grateful that he thinks it is! But the truth of the matter is, Isa won't experience this kind of love until we bring him home. So many orphans around the world will never experience this kind of "normal love"! The sad truth is, this Christmas, millions of children around the world, will feel unloved and unwanted. Not having a single person (while Jude has a swarm of people who love him) that they can think of that loves them! Ugh, it makes me so sad to think about. 

BUT... we can make a difference! God's plan was for His people to rise up and father the fatherless! We're His plan! Let's show some love on these kids that don't know what "normal love" looks like! Maybe it's sponsoring a child, maybe it's looking into adoption... but whatever it is, cover it in prayer and I'm confident that God will lead the way and bless you for it! He's sure blessed us for stepping out of our comfort zone and saying we'll love a babe who needs a home! 

We've had this song on by Toby Mac on an old school WOW cd for years and I just happened to really "hear" the words this season while decorating the tree, LOVE it!