Adoption, orphan prevention, Raising Warriors

Spotlight on the Mommas: Caring for the Unborn and Their Moms

Well, I told you I was going to introduce you to some fierce women. I can’t wait for you to meet this gem. I’ve known her longer than I’ve known myself, that’s for sure! I love Stephanie like the sister I’ve always wanted and her story is full of hope and anticipation. Her life is not simple or easy as a the wife of an Army Chaplain and mom to 3 kiddos, but I love where God is leading her sweet family.

You are going to love this woman, and not just because she loves cinnamon rolls as much as I do!

As adamant pro-lifers the Kersey’s are adopting an infant as means of tangible support to an unexpectedly pregnant mom. They’ve recently been chosen for a possible “placement” due in September and I love celebrating with them and praying for the expecting momma with them. Their love for the mom is just as fierce as their love for this unborn child.

I asked Stephanie a series of questions and I want you to hear her own powerful words, so here it ALLLLLL is interview style:

How did you decide you wanted to adopt? (Were you and Dan always on the same page?) I remember the very first time Dan brought up adoption back when we were dating. He shared with me that the idea of adoption deeply resonated with him because of how it tangibly demonstrates the gospel. When we are saved we are chosen by God and invited into his family as a son or daughter with the full rights of a natural born child. He does this not because of anything we did but because of his grace. So after that conversation I always kept the idea of adoption in the back of my mind. When we got married, I was very sick with Ulcerative Colitis and ended up having 3 major surgeries after all other options failed. My doctor was upfront about what it could do to our chances of conceiving naturally, so we had to face the real possibility we wouldn’t have biological children. But God miraculously and graciously gave us 3 amazing kids we did not expect to have. Even still, adoption was something we talked about and prayed for God to move if it was his will for our family. 

How did you decide to adopt an infant? About 6 years ago one of the major news headlines was about a man named David Daleiden who uncovered Planned Parenthood’s illegal selling of aborted baby tissue. Once a week for several weeks he would release new video footage. Footage that rocked me to my core. I couldn’t stop watching every new video or reading every news article on the topic. I couldn’t stop crying. And though I tried, I couldn’t forget it. I second-guessed my reaction thinking I would snap out of it, but I didn’t. Then my thoughts shifted: Maybe this was the Lord. So I prayed. I asked God that if this was the Holy Spirit moving that we would listen. So that’s when Dan and I started praying intentionally together about abortion and how we should respond. We had no idea what obedience looked like in specifics but what we did know is that we wanted to be a part of the solution. With becoming more active in the pro-life movement, we had a growing conviction to care specifically for women in unplanned pregnancies and their unborn children by becoming an adoptive family. We started seeing first hand the need to put conviction into action by becoming an adoptive family. But adoption isn’t easy and may or may not be the best choice for women facing an unplanned pregnancy. In fact, we believe it should be a last resort after a woman has exhausted all her resources.

For those women who choose to make an adoption plan, we want to be there as an option.  

Stephanie Kersey

How do your bio kids feel about the adoption so far? (What have you told them? Do they know other adopted kids?) Our kids are very excited to bring into the family another sibling! We have shared with them that there is a mother out there who has chosen us to be the parents of her baby.  But they’re still pretty young and don’t always understand how this all works. But what really helps is that they have seen adoption with their cousin Jack. We’ve been able to talk about “tummy mommies” and how special and brave they are for placing their baby in an adoptive family.  

How has the process of adoption been different from adding bio kids to a family? Strangely, I think many of the fears are the same. When you’re pregnant they give you all these tests to find out if the baby has any sort of abnormalities or diagnoses that need to be addressed. So it’s like right off the bat you’re worried for them and whether or not you can handle whatever bad thing might happen. And then the baby comes and you don’t stop worrying about them. Like, will I bond with them? Are they eating enough? WHY WON’T THEY EAT?!  What if I mess up and totally ruin their lives? What if they have crippling disorders? So even though I’m not growing a baby in my womb, I find myself worrying about all sorts of things that could happen. Whether it’s my biological child or adoptive, I will need the Lord’s strength in letting go of my right to decide my kids life and future. I have to remind myself every day that my children belong to God for His glory and not mine. 

What has helped you to wait during all the paperwork, then waiting to be selected and now waiting for the due date? I can’t speak for Dan on this one but for me, I think the hardest part about waiting wasn’t the paperwork process but playing the comparison game with other hopeful adoptive families. When I see other hopeful adoptive families bringing their babies home it is hard not to think, why not us?  I had to really check those thoughts and pray to have a heart for God’s plan for our family, not my own. I find that when I get ahead of God with my desires, things go badly for me in my spirit. So Dan and I work on being open-handed toward God with our plans by praying together. And I think praying together as a couple is huge. It gives us the chance to be vulnerable with each other about our fears which only makes us stronger as a couple. 

Isn’t Stephanie incredible? She brings us such a lovely balance of authentic hope and real truth. I love that. Her strength comes from being rooted in the True Vine and it shows!

I am the Vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

Let’s take this challenge to remain connected to the True Vine so that the fruit we bear will be lasting despite the ups and downs and challenges we face. May our fruit change the world for one person, one child, one at a time. And let’s join together in praying for the Kersey family and the baby they love already. Let’s all be praying for the expecting Momma who is making hard decisions right now. We believe the best for her and her child and the GOOD future we know God has for them.

Thanks for openly and generously sharing your story with us, Kersey Family!!

Community, Hearing from God, HOPE, Prayer, Uncategorized

Powerful Prayer Part 4 ~ What To Do When Doubt Creeps In

Well now that you’re becoming a crazy prayer WARRIOR, you’ll undoubtedly join the ranks of those who’s faith has fallen and risen again and fallen and risen again. The truth of the matter is: The more you pray, the more likely you are to see miracles (yay!!) and the more likely you are to have questions, fears and doubt.

I love this quote from Shauna Niequist’s Savor:

“The  question is not, will my life be easy or will my heart break? But rather, when my heart breaks, will I choose to grow?”

We all have our moments of doubt. We start to think that maybe God doesn’t want to answer our prayer, or maybe He just won’t. Maybe it’s Him, maybe it’s us, but for some unknown and invisible reason, the answer is no. Honestly, the bigger your faith is, the bigger your questions will become – which is good! With questioning, and voicing our fears, comes a strengthening of our beliefs as we seek the word of God and our faith community for the answers. This actually deepens our resolve in what we believe and why – instead of just taking it at face value.

Buuuuuuut, what do we often do when faced with dissappointment, fear or doubt? We have a little temper tantrum. Yep, so often when I see my youngest lay herself down on the floor for a good scream or stamp that little foot and scrunch up her face into a pout, I think: I bet that’s what I look like when I hear “no” from God, haha!

So as I tell Miss Mya so often “Please, just use your words to tell me how you feel!” And I put on my big girl britches and “choose to grow”. I tell God my doubt and fear. Sometimes this process takes me days. The worries or anger oozes out of me from so many unknown places I never realized it had been building up so much! Sometimes it’s one good cry or shouting session and I can feel the release of my angst and put words to my fear to see it’s only that: fear. There’s no truth in it at all!

OK, but what if your fear and doubt is beyond words? What if those lies have run so deep that they’re mixed up with truth and experience and perhaps even trauma (eek!) and you have nowhere to begin and no way to start? What if you feel hopeless about a thing you hold so dear and it hurts to talk about it – even to God? What if you’re scared or lost or broken or fragile? I think we may all have such an area or season in our hearts if we are truly being honest. You are not the first, nor the last to enter this place.

This is where I have found 3 things to be helpful. (Hint: they all start with my own humility!) Essentially, I admit that I have nothing- not even the words to express my heart. I alone have no power to bring change to the world or my situation and I honestly cannot even change my beliefs. If you are still in the struggle and haven’t reached the bottom yet, this is a difficult thing! If you’re already at ground zero, it somehow seems a little easier. So, on to three things:

#1 : The Fake-It-‘Till-You-Make-It Approach

Maybe it’s not even faking anything, but just pressing forward in the direction you want to go whether you feel it or not! I surround myself with truth. I want to move toward faith so I listen to speakers of faith. I spend time with people who have big faith! I post scripture on every surface of my room/house/car/office and read or listen to TRUTH on auto-pilot until some of the thoughts I’ve chosen to “fake” become my own. (Does this qualify as self-brainwashing? If so, it works!)

#2 : Praying Scripture/Praying in the Spirit.

When I have no words, I have nothing to pray. I admit, I don’t have the answers or the solution and I get to a point where I don’t even know what I’m asking for anymore. This is where the Bible says “the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27) These groanings of the Spirit can be so many things. Sometimes my creative side comes through and I can paint, draw or even dance. Sometimes praying in tongues is a way to allow the spirit to do the talking and my heart finds peace. Another way is to play some soaking music and allow the Lord to speak as you rest in His presence. Just allow yourself to be.

Praying scripture is the most powerful way to fight the enemy. There is nothing stronger (especially when I have no words) than the very word of God! Our pastor just gave an incredible sermon referencing this very thing and it might just be the truth you need to fake-till-you-can-make-it! Another great resource for Praying Scripture is Beth Moore’s Praying God’s Word. Her book is an incredible list of scriptures organized by topic. If you want to pray for your marriage/anxiety/co-worker, she’s got God’s word ready for you to search and speak. I encourage you to seek the scripture and find a verse, story, or chapter that speaks to where you are right now and pray that! Our pastor gave Psalm 32 and 51 as launching points for prayer and it’s a great place to start.

#3 : Worship & Thankfulness

Worship while we’re waiting, of course! Worship fills my mind and the atmosphere around me with hope even when I’m not feeling it. It’s true that silence can be healing as well, but perhaps a balance of both is what you need?

Thankfulness is a practice of positivity. If I’ve been focusing on the negative, just naming three things I’m thankful for will switch my brain and change the focus from “Woe is me” to “Whoa, I’m blessed!” There is loads of actual research supporting this, but I’m sure you’ve heard it. Play the “Glad Game” you Pollyanna fans!

Now I have a choice, I’ve unloaded on God. (I often view it as a spew or vomit, but perhaps you’d prefer to see it as leaving baggage or burdens at the feet of a wise and capable King.) I’ve surrounded myself with what I WANT to believe and chosen to look for the good. So what next? I can leave His presence and I am truly better for the time I’ve spent. I feel lighter and less overcome already. OR I can stay there. I can choose to let Him speak truth over me. I can listen for the refreshing truth that replaces those ugly burdens. This practice can change the way my brain works to renounce those lies in the FUTURE too! I want to prevent myself from coming back to this place of doubt and despair.

Hebrews 6:19-20 The Message (MSG)

“We who have run for our very lives to God have every reason to grab the promised hope with both hands and never let go. It’s an unbreakable spiritual lifeline, reaching past all appearances right to the very presence of God where Jesus, running on ahead of us, has taken up his permanent post as high priest for us…”

No matter which avenue you choose, (one or all three!) just keep moving forward. Do what needs to be done so that you are choosing to GROW. As long as we trust God and HIS plan, we will come out as victors- no matter how long it takes to get there and how much “faking” it takes to finally believe.

So what are you trusting God for? What fight are you holding out hope for? What brings you back from a place of doubt? Please share so we can all stand together in faith and even benefit from other’s great ideas!!

Adoption, HOPE, Our Journey: Adopting from Africa

A Playlist To Worship While We Wait

Oh my sweet Elisee. He is so innocent. And so joyful. I have revelations of the Father’s heart every time I think of my little African treasure. Here’s his latest photo. ( And you can ignore that serious face, it’s a farce!)

My big 10 year old!

I can just imagine his bedtime thoughts as the world quiets and the day fades into peaceful darkness. “Where’s my mom & dad?” “Why haven’t they come yet?” “Why did God choose me and yet leave me here?”

Of course, I haven’t asked Elisee about these things. I’m sure I couldn’t bear to hear his little voice speak my own wonders. Yet here we wait: him and I on two different continents.

So I choose to praise the God who holds the sun and the moon and my Elisee.

I think God is amazing to have introduced us to Elisee in such a unique and divine way!

I am thankful that I have met and spent time with the son I prayed for, for so long! I’m thankful for every single kiss I planted on his round cheeks!

I am thankful Elisee has met his birth-mother and gets to see her occasionally.

I am thankful he can go to the very best English school and live with a  family who can show him love and relationship in new and beautiful ways.

I am thankful my son learned how to give and receive love during our 3 week stay with him. (Adoptive moms: Healthy attachment potential, yay!!)

I am thankful for God’s promises which stand strong despite my doubts and fears.

orphans-john-14
God’s Literal Promise

I am thankful I have a Father who loves me enough to love my children even more than I could ever love them. And fulfill their needs before I even know them.

And so, for now I will worship. So many powerful songs have been written about the correlation between worship and waiting, I know I’m not the only one needing the encouragement. So here’s a few to inspire hope inside of you as you wait for your promises to be fulfilled 💕

Hillsong United – Stay and Wait

John Waller – While I’m Waiting

Kristene DiMarco – Take Courage & I Am No Victim

Brian & Jenn Johnson – You’re Gonna Be OK

Upper Room – Surrounded

Elevation Worship – Do It Again

Skillet – Stars

Elevation Worship – Nothing is wasted

Aaaaaand here’s the whole playlist on YouTube in case you want to listen to it all on repeat.

That’ll get you started 😜

Let’s lift our hands together!