Friday, January 28, 2011

The Sweetest Note Ever!

I went to the mailbox to find this yesterday....

This is quite possibly the sweetest note I've ever received! It's from our precious little neighbor boy, who I think is 9 years old! Oh how I love the heart of a child! I'm thinking this little note deserves a frame! I'm willing to bet this is his allowance money from this week and he chose to give it towards bringing Isa home! Oh it just makes me cry! As always, amazed at the ways in which God is writing this story and who He is using to accomplish His purposes! Even 9 year old little boys! And is this not just the most perfect little handwriting you've ever seen?! 

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

True Purpose (thinking deep)

I'm not sure exactly how to eloquently put my thoughts into words, so bare with me. My hope is to jot down what's been stirring in my heart as of late, so that I can look back down the road and pinpoint when the "shift" of my thoughts on Christianity began.

From the beginning of this adoption process God has so clearly been revealing Himself to me in new and fresh ways. My regret is that it's taken me so long to genuinely INVITE Him to take my life and use it. If I'm honest, this is the first time that I've truly laid my agenda aside and spent countless nights, staring at the ceiling, pouring my heart out for God to reveal His desires for what our life as a family looks like.  His whispers have become louder and louder ever since taking the first step of faith in saying YES to pursuing this journey to "father to the fatherless".

I feel like God is up in my face, hands on my shoulders, looking me square in the eyes, saying, "Don't believe what this world says your life should look like! Believe what my word says your life should look like!". Unintentionally, I have spent the last 30 years of my life incorporating God into Hilary's plans as I saw fit and were convenient for me. I did this, thinking that I was living out the good "Christian life". But in taking one look at what the gospel says my life purpose as a Christian is... it's clear that it's a far cry from what the world is screaming in my face! God doesn't say, "go live a comfortable life, in a beautiful home, pursue a job that you put your security in and bust butt to work your way up the ladder... and oh by the way, go to church on Sundays"! In contrast the gospel calls Christians to a much different life: 

  • (John 20:21)"As the Father has sent me, I am sending you."  
  • Jesus' prayer for the believers  (John 17:13)I in them, and you in me, may they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and I have loved them even as you have loved me." 
  • (Matthew 28:19) "Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations". 
  • (Mark 16:13) "He said to them, go into the world and preach the good news to all creation." 
  • (Mark 13:10) "And the gospel must first be preached to all nations (people groups)." 

It's clear that our God given purpose is to live our lives in whole-hearted pursuit of making His name known, and to do so in love. Knowing that and living that are two totally different things. If I, really believe this to be true wouldn't my life reflect it? Wouldn't my priorities change? Wouldn't there be an urgency to fulfill my purpose of spreading the gospel for the sake of eternal life? God's word says that the gospel must be preached to all people groups before His return... then shouldn't I get off my bum, gladly tune out what the world says my life should look like, and give my all to seeing Christ's return during my lifetime?!

These are the questions I ask myself and have to sort through and am held responsible to answer. Joshua and I are in prayer over what this looks like for our lives. I'm so thankful that this journey to Isa has opened the door of confidence to trust God's purpose for our life on all levels! We continue to beg for God's presence and guidance as we desire fulfill our true purpose!

Friday, January 21, 2011

One YEP and One NOPE

Following the phone call with the great news of our approval for a Matching Grant from Lifesong the other day, I headed out to the mailbox. There sat a letter from Show Hope (the other amazing organization we applied for a grant with). They had said we would hear back from them no later than March 1st- so I wasn't expecting mail from them quite yet, but my gut told me that this letter in my hands was our "answer". From the very moment we filled out all our grant paperwork, both Joshua and I have truly been at peace with whatever the outcome. Honestly, we just feel like we're suppose to do our part and pursue every possible avenue possible and that no matter what God will (and clearly already has) provide in huge ways and bless our efforts! I made up my mind before even tearing open the envelope that either way, yes or no, I wasn't going to let it damper the excitement of the YES just a couple moments before from Lifesong! The answer from Show Hope was in fact no and they graciously explained that while they would love to offer a grant to every qualified applicant, it's just not possible. They receive large numbers of applications per month and are only able to fund a limited number of grants. The letter also went on to say "Yet, we are equally thankful that God does not need Show Hope to accomplish His purposes in the lives of these precious children or the families who desire to adopt. We remain prayerful and are confident that God will meet your needs as you seek Him throughout this process."... I LOVE this truth and whole heartedly believe it! God will accomplish His work one way or another, because He's God and He's good like that! I truly believe that Show Hope covers every application in prayer and I'm confident that the applicant's who received grants NEEDED them and they went exactly where they were suppose to!

I'm grateful for YES's in life and I'm grateful for NO's in life as well. God uses them both to teach me to desperately hang onto Him and only Him in life!

On a completely different note... this past weekend I celebrated turning the BIG THREE-ZERO!!! Maybe I should feel "old" but I don't. Funny how my perspective changes as I get older and what I once considered "old" keeps getting bumped up! I mean after all, it's a known fact that 30 is the new 20 anyway, right (Just go with it, it makes me feel better!)?!

Well my hubby totally outdid himself and planned an entire day full of birthday surprises, from my friend Joely coming into town, to a big surprise dinner that night with some of my closest friends and my family! It truly was a great birthday and I was way impressed with Joshua's sneaky secret ways he planned everything! If you know Joshua at all, he can't lie to save his life... so the fact that he was able to plan so much behind my back without me knowing was seriously impressive! I sat there most of the night, wheels turning in my head, contemplating how everything came together and how I didn't find out- it's a funny thing to be at a party and not have planned a lick of it! I'm so thankful for a husband who goes out of his way to make me feel special!

I wish I would have taken more pictures of everyone at the party- but I was having such a fun time I forgot to! Here's a couple that I did manage to get though!

Joely came in town from OK to surprise me!
My sis made her incredible cupcakes and brought them to the restaurant. Jude man helped me blow out my candles!
                                 Joely, my sister and I- they keep a good secret! 

Some of my sweet friends that came to surprise me! I think I got a little teary when I saw everyone's faces who were there, I was genuinely taken back by everyone being there!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Nap time today at the Helms house became a lot more exciting than my normal, boring, yet productive, routine of laundry and straitening up around the house because it was interrupted by a phone call... from Lifesong! A wonderful phone call I might add!!! So I scratched the nap time to do list for today and instead did the happy dance and sat in amazement of God's hand in every detail of this journey (I mean, seriously... I'm loosing count of all the "God" moments I've experience in this process so far!!!).

Okay, so onto the good news... I mean GREAT NEWS!!!! The phone call from Lifesong was to inform us that we are APPROVED for a Matching Grant of $3000.00 received from Tapestry/Irving Bible Church!!!! Now you might be thinking... what the heck does that really mean?! It means that Tapestry Ministry  has partnered with Lifesong to fund a Matching Grant on our behalf and that ANY donation (tax deductible I might add) we receive between now and March 31st given to Lifesong in our name will be matched up to $3,000! So Lenora's incredibly generous gift, that I mentioned a couple posts below, of $1000 has now all the sudden become $2000!!!! How awesome is that?!  AHHHH!!!! I'm am just dumb founded by how God is providing in the most amazing ways ever!!!! Seriously, I'm floored!

What this means for Joshua and I is that we need to bust booty and do our best to fundraise like crazy until March 31st so that we can take full advantage of the $3000 they're offering to match! The wheels are turning in my head of all the creative ways we can go about doing this... this could potentially be an extra $6000 towards our adoption fund, HUGE blessing!!!

Okay, so I have no idea if you've ever considered donating towards our adoption, but if you have, I humbly say that now is the perfect time! Not only will it be tax deductible, but it'll be matched!!! For online donations you can click HERE and it'll also have information on mailing in donations as well. We'll be sending letters out in the mail here soon as well with more information, and if you'd like to be included in that mailing list, just let me know and I'll be sure to add you!

Nap time is now over, so mommy duty calls- but I just had to share the good news and praise God for His blessings once again in bringing Isa home!!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Our God is Greater

I've been listening to this song a lot lately. I love the words of truth about our God. Our God is Greater, Our God is Stronger, God you are higher than any other! In fact,  I desperately hang onto these words daily! My heart beats fast and my eyes get teary when the song gets to the part where it says "And if our God is for us then who can ever stop us, and if our God is with us then what can stand against". I promise you that never before in my life have I believed that statement to be more true! I have seen God work during this journey to Isa like never before- and I know that it's because He's for this! I set my life plans aside and invited God to reveal His... and I've stood back and watched in awe. I know He longs to show off in ALL our lives, if we'd invite Him to. If we'd lay our agenda aside and pray for His. Yes it's scary, yes it's risky, and YES it's far more rewarding then anything else this world can offer! 

Our God truly is awesome in power...
I'm reminded of this when I look into my boys eyes and see the details of God's work!
Daddy showing Jude what an awesome painter God is!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Oh how I miss my lifeguards! Sweet Lenora is to my right!
In the beginning of December I received a totally unexpected email from a sweet girl, Lenora, that use to lifeguard for me at Doe River Gorge Camp (a little slice of heaven, where Joshua and I were on staff in TN before moving to TX). At the time (this is almost 5 years ago), Lenora was just 17 years old and clearly already had a heart of gold, volunteering her summer days to love on campers and take them tubing down the Doe River. The two of us unintentionally lost touch over the years, Joshua and I moved to TX, Lenora was in college & the sweet 17 year old "Lenora" I see in my head is actually now engaged to be married (wahoo!)... life happened. However, I will say that we've remained "friends" on FB... but let's just admit it, that's not saying much, since I have over 400 friends on there, of which I'm only close with maybe 20! So when I say it was a surprise to hear from her, I really mean it! I opened my email to find this...

Lenora all grown up with her fiance! 

Hope all is well your way. Your family is precious! I just wanted to let you know I follow you on FB and look for your updates on the adoption process often. I feel like God has called me to help you with your adoption process...."

She goes on to say that she was given $1000 from her dad's trust fund and that he told her the parameters were to use it "For the Glory of God"... and that she wanted to use it to help bring our Isa home! Her dad also had the simple request, that she find a way to have it be a tax deductible gift, completely understandable! I finished reading her email with happy tears streaming down my face, once again floored at how God is writing this story in ways I would have never have imagined!

I quickly set out on a mission, to find a tax deductible way she could donate this generous $1000 towards our adoption. It didn't take long for  Lifesong for Orphans to be highly recommended from other adopting families as the route to go with! We had actually looked into applying for Lifesong's, Both Hands Grant, in the beginning of our adoption process, so we were already familiar with them as a reputable organization. So after re-evaluating the different grants that Lifesong offered, we decided to go ahead and apply for the Matching Grant option along with checking a box indicating that we'd love to use them as a tax deductible route for us to receive donations . I mailed off all our grant paperwork and application on December 20th and they said to expect 6-8 weeks before hearing back. Well, I HEARD BACK TODAY(well with half the news at least)!!!

I got a phone call today from the sweetest lady ever from Lifesong letting me know that she was looking over my application (to which I quickly assumed she was probably calling because I must have filled something out wrong!). Instead of informing me that I had missed a critical question on the application that now null and voided my entire grant request, she was incredibly encouraging about how our application looked and how impressed she was with how much money we had already raised!  And to an approval seeking gal like me, this meant the world! (But let's be honest, God gets all the credit for every penny raised so far!). Anyway, she went on to say that they should know here shortly (as early as next week even) if our Matching Grant application is approved. She mentioned that grants are given out dependent on available funds and things are kind of tight right now, so we'll just have to wait and see. BUT in the mean time, she went ahead and approved us to fund raise through them! Meaning, they are going to provide a tax-deductible route for friends, family, heck even strangers, to donate towards our adoption! So if you've ever wanted to give towards our adoption but couldn't or didn't because it wasn't tax deductible, well now you can! From NOW until MARCH 31, 2011 donations can be made in our name to Lifesong, 100% of the donation will go towards our adoption costs, and you will receive the beautiful tax deductible receipt!

You can make a donation one of two ways.

1. Mail check: (made payable to Lifesong for Orphans) indicating our last name in the memo section (preference Helms #1772 adoption).

Lifesong for Orphans
PO Box 40 / 202 N. Ford St.
Gridley, IL 61744

2. Online Donation: Can be made through PayPal by clicking HERE. (Just FYI PayPal takes a 2-3% directly from the donation.)

Isn't this just awesome?! So a HUGE thank you to Lenora for your amazing generosity and for unknowingly opening up this awesome avenue (through Lifesong) for God to provide in yet more amazing ways! AND who knows, maybe we'll get approved for the Matching Grant (praying!) and all donations received will be matched up to a certain amount! I'll keep you posted when I hear!

(Just FYI... I still have not heard back yet from Show Hope (they said we'd hear something by March 1st) or Room for One More Child regarding our grant applications with them- but I'll be sure to keep you posted!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Notice of Favorable Determination

Guess what I mailed off to AGCI today? That's right... our Notice of Favorable Determination letter from the USCIS! We went for our biometrics fingerprint appointment back at the end of December and received this letter late last week with the words we longed to hear "Favorable"(it has a nice ring to it, doesn't it!). Joshua and I went on Saturday to get it notarized and I put it in the mail today. This letter is crucial in moving forward with our adoption, it's a must have in order to be referred a child.  From my understanding, this is the last, sweet, sought after, little piece of paperwork required from us in order for us to be "referral ready". Which is good news... from here on out, we are qualified to receive a referral of a child... but let me be clear that we still have a long wait! I know I've mentioned this before, but AGCI's estimated wait time from the time a family is put on the wait list until referral is 9-12 months. That being said, we went on the wait list at the end of October, so yep.... we still have quite a bit of waiting to do! Regardless of the wait, turning in this letter brings a strange bit of comfort to know that we have everything tied up on our end of the deal, so that when the time comes- we will get that oh so anticipated phone call with our referral!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Official January Numbers are IN!

We got the email from our agency today letting us know that for the month of January we are officially number 55 on the boys wait list! This was one number lower than I had thought, so it was a welcomed surprise! Jude helped me flip over our countdown Africa's tonight and glue hearts on the backside, representing all the kiddos who were placed with their forever families this past month! As I see more hearts hanging on our wall as we turn over our numbers, it almost brings me to tears grasping the impact that every single heart truly represents a life that is rescued, a family who stepped out in faith, and a chance at a full, love-filled life for a orphan! Bring on more referrals for the month of January so we can see even more hearts and see an even lower number for Isa! We continue to trust with confidence that this is all playing out in God's perfect timing and that God is at work in Ethiopia right now, even as I type this, putting all the pieces of this puzzle together in how Isa will a part of our family!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Comfort... it's Overrated!

Even Jude likes "comfortable"... hanging close to
the wall at the playground in fear of letting go
Isn't it just so stinking true that we love to be comfortable... in everything really?! We love for our lifestyles to be comfortable, for our relationships to be comfortable, and for our faith to be comfortable. It stirs things up in our stomachs when we're challenged to step outside our comfort zones and live, act, and respond in a way that disturbs our grip on our normal, likable life. As a matter of fact, I'd venture to say it makes some of us (including me) flat out mad at times to have such a challenge in front of us. What it boils down to, and I hate that it's true, is that we're all selfish, in one way or another- preferring to live in a "me-centered" world that requires no change, unless of course it was our idea to begin with.

As I mentioned a couple posts below, Joshua got me the book Radical by David Platt for Christmas. I know several of you have already read this- and I'm sure you'd agree... there are times you'd like to chuck it across the room out of conviction! When God's truth stares you in the face, it's uncomfortable... and life-changing... and GOOD. As Christian's, I think it's safe to say, we're all guilty of "giving into the dangerous temptation to take the Jesus of the Bible and twist him into a version of Jesus we are more comfortable with." Because when the Jesus of the Bible stares us in the face... it requires letting go of our plans, our agendas, our comfort, and recklessly abandoning our life to Him. Makes total sense that the name of the book is Radical- Jesus' commandments for Christians are radical and... full of blessings if we'd just trust Him!

I don't know much about radical living (besides the fact that I've probably tried to avoid it most my life). This whole adoption thing is about as radical as Joshua and I have ever gone. And it's not the idea of adoption itself that is so crazy (loving Isa as my own doesn't scare me)- the radical part of this journey has been that it was never our plan. God flipped our plans upside down when we simply asked Him to break our hearts for what break His (careful what you pray for!). The radical part of this adoption journey has simply been setting our life story aside saying, "We'll trust you God, We'll be obedient, We'll get uncomfortable" all the while begging Him to lead the way. So I can sit here here today with confidence and say that His story is far better than the story I was writing for myself! His story if full of incredible, incredible blessings!

For quite some time now I've felt as if this journey to Isa is just the tip of the iceberg. God is working in so many other facets to this story, half of which I'm sure I don't even know. So when I read a book like Radical, it makes the adoption seem like we've just scratched the surface of our radical living- and that as long as we continue to desperately seek Him as the author of our story- He has far better things to write! And I'm learning to be okay with uncomfortable, when it means that I'm a part of God's will- actually desiring uncomfortable, knowing that His blessings are far better than that of the world.

I don't know what the rest of the "iceberg" looks like yet  for our family. We're not moving to Ethiopia tomorrow or anything... but who knows down the road! We do know for certain, that for today- He's calling us to take care of the orphans, by adopting Isa and sharing our story. And so we continue to pray for His truth to stare us in the face, even when it's uncomfortable, and we pray for the strength to respond!