Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Testing of Faith

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord."
James 1:2-7

I have a love/hate relationship with the book of James.  It is such a challenge to me personally each time I read its pages. When we began the adoption journey, the biggest "trial" we could see in front of us was MONEY. I want to share how God has been using this overwhelming hurdle to grow our faith and show His goodness. Let's start at the beginning, which wasn't pretty...

"God, I'd be willing to adopt, but you know we can't.  You know our bank account and we don't have that kind of money.  It would take us years to save up even close to that amount.  So I think this tug at my heart has been a mistake that you didn't mean to send, because surely you can't be asking me to do this.  I know that we've had thoughts of adoption for a while now, but that was probably just based off emotions.  Because based off logic, it just doesn't make sense.  Thanks but no thanks."

I'm so grateful God is patient with me.  That He doesn't give up on me the first, second, or numerous other time that I just don't "get it".  That as I went back to God's word to read James 1:27 where it talks about looking after orphans as a pure and faultless religion, I had to read through the beginning of the chapter again and read about trials and the testing of faith.

How I had wished we could skip the in between and go straight from trial to God's outcome.

But, as we have moved through the in between in our adoption journey, I've changed my mind on that statement.

Because to skip the wait, would skip seeing God's provision along the way.

When Cody and I finally said our yes out loud to each other in November 2015, we had a savings account that was minimal and a credit card with a balance on it!  I hate credit cards and kept asking myself how we had let ourselves let the credit card get ahead of us.  We knew we didn't want to start behind so we began to work hard at saving to pay it off.  We felt strongly that we had to give our all and our best and that God would do the rest.  Thank you God for the extra discipline and extra money.

That was great and all, but then we were looking at a $600 home study cost and $2,000 consultant cost before we could really even get started.  At this point, we began to look around our home and sell some things for extra money.  We also used Christmas money and bonuses and soon we were getting closer and closer.  We took out an interest-free (for a year) credit card and had planned to put the rest of the consultant cost on it, when we had a generous gift card given and suddenly my eyes were opened to the fact that God was multiplying our efforts.  I knew then that it would take a sacrifice on our part, but that God would come through.

So less than six weeks after our yes, we were out of debt (thankfully it was a small amount), had paid for a home study, and had paid our consultant fee.  And can I just say that we NEVER just happen to have a few thousand dollars around.  We don't even have a few hundred dollars.  Our paychecks are predetermined and we have a budget.  Yet somehow we had extra money we hadn't expected.  And we were ready to get started.  My faith was growing slowly.

We received the information packet from our consultant with more details than I knew what to do with.  I skimmed the info for the financial page.  I had thought domestic adoption cost around $25,000.  I don't remember now where I came up with the number.  I think I read it somewhere.  But then I read in our packet the range was anywhere from $25,000-$45,000!

I wonder if God smiled at me as I wanted to take another step back and run and hide.  In my planning of how "we" were going to do this, I had thought that the $25,000 would be a huge stretch and maybe impossible, and now a BIGGER number?

But we pressed forward.  We decided it was time to share with our friends.  It was humbling to say the least because I knew at some point, I might have to consider "fundraising".

Does that word give anyone else an uneasy feeling or just me?  Coming from the girl who hated selling girl scout cookies! (But at the same time I buy from anyone who comes to my door to sell anything because I feel for them and the fact that they are making an effort to raise funds.  Don't take advantage of my inability to say no.)  ;)

This is so not in my comfort zone God.

We continued to pray.  We prayed on how we could raise funds.  We prayed about if we should ask for help.  We prayed we could save with our own money.  We prayed for a good tax return.  We prayed through the ideas on "How to Adopt Without Debt".  We prayed for the wisdom it talked about in James 1:5-6.

And slowly, God changed my fear to faith because I was finally willing to follow him even if I only knew one step at a time. We were willing to borrow, raise or sell whatever it took to bring home our baby.

What better opportunity to walk by faith, than to take the step God is asking you to take without knowing the next step after that?  Do I have any other type A people in the group?  Yet, this faith that I long for is available for me and God is asking me to just trust Him.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

So this is the part of the blog where I know I'm going to do an injustice to all God has done for us.  This is the part where I wish I could sit across from you with a cup of coffee and tell you how He came through beyond our biggest hopes.  But instead I will attempt to give it words here and probably re-write this section 10 times over.  Each thing listed has a full story of its own.  But if I wrote it all down you probably wouldn't have time to read it all in one setting, so here we go.

We designed a shirt with a verse we were passionate about with a hope of selling 75.  We had 125 t-shirts ordered.  Several paid even more than we were asking.  We've been told stories about opportunities for our friends to share their faith and answer questions when wearing the t-shirt.  It makes us happy to see our friends and family in t-shirts that mean so much to us.

We had a garage sale where we had a goal of making $500.  We made $1,300! Charlotte made a sign that we put up showing we were doing this to save money for our adoption.  It was another opportunity to share with neighbors and strangers the desire God has placed on our heart to adopt.  My favorite story of the day was a complete stranger paying over $100 more for her items and just said "you guys are doing a good thing".  I was in complete shock and didn't even get her name.  As she drove away, her little girl waved to us out the window with the biggest smile.  I wish I could tell them how much it meant to us.

We had considered a Noonday fundraiser but because we had just sold t-shirts, I had told my friend, Tracy who is a Noonday Ambassador that I didn't think the timing was right.  A week or two later, another friend, Julie, called and said that "out of the blue" she had a call from a Noonday Ambassador asking if she'd like to host a party and that the proceeds could go toward an adoption and Julie thought of us!  With Julie offering to host, I didn't want to say no, but felt bad that I would be using a different Noonday Ambassador other than Tracy only to realize that Tracy was Julie's friend too.  It's neat to see God's plan unfold.  We had work friends and church friends come and not only support our adoption, but also artisan entrepreneurs in some of the world's most vulnerable communities.

My sister offered to have a Thirty One party for us in Stilwell.  We had several ladies attend and again Cody and I shared about adoption and our journey.  Above the cost raised from the party sales, we had over $200 given in cash offered with prayers and hugs.

We shared the story of a quilt made for us HERE. What we didn't share was that the highest bidder paid MORE than their highest bid AND another family who did not win the auction still gave the highest amount they had bid just to support our efforts.  Talk about tears!

Our Chick-fil-A fundraiser was a huge success.  Besides the financial outcome, we felt so loved and supported from all who gave up their Thursday night to join us.  I know that many had to drive across town.  I know it's not always the easiest thing to do as a parent with young kids on a school night.  I know many came for a second dinner.  It meant so much.  A young gentleman stopped at our table to ask about who we were and why we were there.  He said, "there's something different about you guys, like a light that shines."  We were happy to say that the "light" in us is not of us but because of Jesus.  When we received the total of the fundraiser, the lady also told us that someone had offered to match what we made, doubling our funds!  We do not know who it was, but another blessing above and beyond our hopes for the fundraiser. 

I could go on and on about stories.... the older gentleman who passed us a donation check for the second time, the church member's generous donation with their employer who would match that, the young mother who sent a card and some money because God had led her to give, old friends, new friends and complete strangers who see the value in the life of an unborn child and have supported us with hugs, encouragement, money and prayers.

You know what else I love? 

That during the wait...
During the trial...
During the perseverance...

We are growing to be more like Christ and more dependent on Christ.


I know from the stories of others that one day sweet baby Brumley #3 may go through their own trials in life with questions of their adoption and quite possibly questions of self worth...

And I will pull up this blog along with other records of the countless stories of God's provision and say...

You are worth it.

God saw your worth from the very beginning and so did we.

All of us.

And I will share these stories.

So thank you.