Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Lifeline Blog--New Website!

Our new Lifeline blog website!

We wanted to introduce you to the newly updated Lifeline blog!  We will now begin posting all of our new blog entries to this website at this link here.  You will find it easy to navigate, with six categories at the top: Adoption, Foster Care, (Un)Adopted, Faith & Encouragement, Equipping, and From the Director.  You can use these categories to search older posts from this webiste.  We are so excited to begin using this new blog as a tool to share stories of hope, encouragement, prayer needs, staff testimonies, views from adoptive and foster care families, and much more!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Taiwan Waiting Children

We are excited to announce that we have several NEW children that have been added to our Taiwan Waiting Children list! Lifeline is currently searching for forever families for almost 50 waiting children who are available through our adoption program in Taiwan. New children have recently been added to the waiting children list! The children’s ages range from 1-13 years old and sibling groups are available.

If you have questions or would like more information about our waiting children in Taiwan, please contact Morgan Cheek at Morgan.cheek@lifelinechild.org for more information.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Walk as children of the light..

My husband and I love to go backpacking together. We live in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, so our weekends are most often spend outdoors on a new exciting trail or beautiful mountain that we haven’t explored yet. I look forward to our time outdoors.  I am constantly reminded of our God’s greatness and splendor when I look at the beauty He has created. I can’t look at the mountains without seeing Him. It is amazing to me that the same God that painted the skies is the same God that is with us every single moment of every single day. 

The Lord is constantly teaching me and stretching me in new ways when we are hiking. Not only physically.. but spiritually. I love how scripture has so many examples of “walking” in Him.  Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”  Psalm 119:105 states, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  And Galatians 5:16 says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

Constantly throughout his Word, we see examples and reminders that each step of our daily walk needs to be in the likeness of Christ and allowing Him to lead us. Walking in love (Ephesians 5:2) and setting our eyes on Him.  We are to walk in His image, while also making the most of our time as the days slip away. And walk in a way where we are led by the Spirit and not our flesh. I love the imagery He paints. As we walk through the ups and downs of each day, we are to look to Him for our compass. As life throws us a split on our hiking trail, He is who we seek for direction.

This means that when we, as Lifeline Staff serving families, face difficult situations, we are to look to Him for wisdom. When we, as adoptive families, face a difficult delay, we are to trust Him who has all of our paths mapped out already. He is with us through every joy and every sorrow, walking alongside. The best hiking companion in life we could ever ask for.

“For at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. WALK as children of light.” {Ephesians 5:8}

Briana Remkus, Administrative Assistant

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Heart Muscle

I have recently started an exercise program, and I am about 3 weeks into this new commitment.  I became a little over confident and pushed too hard last week and pulled a muscle.  The weekend was spent resting and icing the sore spot and then it was time to try it again.  I was extremely apprehensive.  I didn’t want to get hurt again.  I wasn’t certain that I could trust the muscle to perform the way I wanted.  The way I needed.

It occurred to me that the children who come into our care may feel some of this same apprehension as their “heart” muscle has been wounded by their past and the hard places where they have been.   Are they afraid to trust that muscle again?  Do they worry that it won’t hold up?  That it might hurt worse than before?  That it won’t provide what they need?

After rest and recovery I did my work out yesterday, tentatively at first.  I started slow. The muscle worked.  It didn’t hurt.  I was careful but I was able to trust it.   Maybe tomorrow I will be able to trust it to go just a little further and work a little harder.  This is my prayer for our children: that as they heal and rest and recover that they will be able to allow their “heart” muscle to trust a little more and go a little deeper in their relationships with their foster, adoptive and birth parents.

Lynn Beckett, International Social Worker

Monday, July 9, 2012

Some thoughts..

One thing I understand is:

Christ has saved me from myself.  This is always how I’ve understood my salvation.  I understand that what happened on the cross that day gave way for true life, hope and purpose.  It saved me from the evil one who seeks to kill, steal and destroy. There is power in Jesus’ name. 

One thing I’m seeing is:

People of the spirit are just little pieces of Him walking around with skin on. God speaks to us through His word but He also uses the people around us.  And what about those times when I’ve felt I have nothing to offer?  That there is nothing in me that is capable of returning the love and grace that I’ve been shown.  I can only pray that God will be able to use what I’ve walked through for His glory someday.  We’ve all felt pain.  We’ve all dealt with things that we wouldn’t wish on anyone else.  But to get to use those lessons to spur one another on towards freedom from darkenss? Yes. That is it.  That makes it all worthwhile.  We are in this human thing together.

One thing I’m learning is:

We must be careful on where our worth is placed.  I believe sometimes we leave it places that we didn’t know we left it, and then when the boat is rocked and our worth falls from that place, we crumble.

In the end:

…it comes back to identity.  Every day, we are one step closer to knowing the depth of His love for us. I pray that is the case.

Questions I have:

Maybe understanding our identity is just part of the journey to sanctification.  Maybe it’s not something that clicks one day or maybe it is. Maybe it’s different for everyone.  I am starting to believe that if I truly lived as if I understood who God says I am, things would look different in my life. Props to the folks who look like they have it together.  I don’t believe that I’ve looked like that a day in my life.  Maybe it’s ok to be an open book.  I find that my problem is that I stay on chapter 2 of my open book.  It’s hard for me to step forward into the unknown.  Am I really one of those folks that sits in darkness just because the darkness is familiar?  What does trust really look like then? There comes a time when faith does require action and I feel l sit on the fence of that.

What this is:

I know I know. What is this, right? True confessions of the bookkeeper?  But these are the thoughts I have in this season of life.  And I must believe that it is a season.  In the words of a sweet coworker, I will look back on this time in my life and laugh because I will be able to see then what God was up to.  Man, I hope so.  Until then….. I’m pressing on and pressing in with the help of some wonderful friends and family.  I know it’s worth it.  I believe it’s worth it. HE is worth it.

Lauri Mehaffey, Bookkeeper

Friday, July 6, 2012

Counting it a joy..

I have the great joy of working with (un)adopted, a ministry of Lifeline Children’s Services. The heart of (un)adopted is to care for orphaned and vulnerable children internationally who may not be adopted because of age, disability, circumstance, disease, or a myriad of other factors. Many of these children age out of homes or government care, having never been prepared for this transition to life alone. Even more tragically, many of them have never heard the Gospel of Christ, the Good News of a Savior who loves them more than even a family could, who has the power to redeem them and wash them clean. They’ve never heard of a Father who loves them steadfastly. These children age out of care and are put on the streets with nowhere to turn. A staggering majority of them turn to prostitution, drugs, and a life of crime. The world would say they are hopeless, even sometimes a burden to society. We say they are children created by the same God who created you and me and are precious in His sight. We say they are worth loving, visiting, caring for, praying over, laughing with, hugging, and teaching.

Recently, I visited the Dominican Republic to spend time with (un)adopted’s missionary family, the Little’s, who moved to the Dominican Republic one year ago. God has opened incredible doors as the Little’s have sought to care for “the least of these” in the Dominican Republic. The Dominican Republic is a beautiful place, full of tropical sea air, beautiful beaches, and vibrant color, but it’s also an incredibly dark place. Poverty abounds, and children live on the streets. Prostitution is blatant, even among young children. Few people find these children worthy of care, affection, and time, but we find them beautiful and in great need of the love of Christ. During our trip, we spent time with children who are living in great poverty and darkness and are forced to grow up way too quickly. We loved these little ones, taught them about Christ, laughed with them, hugged them, and prayed for them. We also spent time in a home where eleven boys are being taught what it means to follow Christ. These boys once lived on the streets, simply surviving. Now they are being loved, have a family for the first time, and are being raised up as godly men. The lives of these eleven boys are being transformed by the power of the Gospel. The heart of (un)adopted is to reach these eleven boys and the many other children like them. To teach, prepare, serve, and love them with the Gospel of Christ. We have been shown great grace by our Savior, so we show great grace. We have been shown the love of a Heavenly Father, so we show His love to little girls and boys who the world deems unworthy. We praise God for the work He is doing in the Dominican Republic in the lives of these eleven little boys and in the lives of children still living on the streets. We count it all joy to serve them. Seeing Him transform their hearts slowly as they learn to trust and love is beautiful and humbling. It reminds us of the transformation God has orchestrated in our own hearts. We pray that many of these children will be counted among our brothers and sisters in eternity, where “The Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17 .

If you would like to learn more about what God is doing through (un)adopted, please email info@unadopted.org or call (205)967.0811.

Jessica Dixon, (un)adopted Assistant Coordinator

Monday, July 2, 2012

It's all about perspective...

As I ponder over the thoughts that Mary and Martha might have had as their brother Lazarus was sick and near death, I can only imagine their sense of urgency, heartache, and wonder.  We read in John 11, the sisters sent to Jesus a message about their brother’s health, believing that Jesus has power over sickness.  Surprisingly instead of coming quickly, Jesus remained where He was for 2 days and meanwhile Lazarus past away.  Did Mary and Martha think Jesus forgot or that Jesus was late?  Did they plan for the results to be different?  Did the sisters wonder why Jesus allowed Lazarus to die?  Did they ask questions and demand answers?  If I was in their shoes, I am sure I would have these thoughts.  Don’t these emotions sound familiar as we, adoptive families, wonder why we wait?  Or question God’s timing in bringing our son or daughter home?  We wonder why this step or that process is staying where it is for an extra 2 days, weeks, or months.

John 11 reminds me every time that it is ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE.  It’s all about a perspective that is not of this world and one we can only be given through God’s grace.  It is an eternal perspective.  It is realizing that the words Jesus spoke, “This illness does not lead to death.  It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it” (John 11:4) must be central in our lives.  We must realize that the glory of God is worth the journey we walk through adoption.  The moments where we wonder what is happening, we must hold fast our confidence in the Lord.  It’s an eternal perspective that will carry us through the times of uncertainty, change, and the burden of urgency. 
We must know God’s character of love, goodness, and grace and believe that he plans all things for our good.  We must walk each day in the light, as scripture says, “If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.” (John 11:9) Because at the end of our journey, Jesus will prove his timing is always best.  Although the disciples and the sisters thought Jesus was late, He showed himself faithful when He called Lazarus to come out. 

Be encouraged as you walk through along the path of your adoption and remember that it’s all about perspective.. an eternal perspective.  A perspective that truly believes God’s timing is never late.  The adoption journey is full of emotions, hard decisions, uncertain answers, and possible changes; however, we can humbly make it through as we rest in Christ.
Logan Gibbons, International Adoption Specialist

Monday, June 25, 2012

ONE body of BELIEVERS...

I don’t have to tell you that there are so many children in need of love, care, and attention in this world. One can be overwhelmed by the photos of so many children in orphanages, on the streets, and in foster care. To hear the number 147 million orphans in the world is staggering & painful.

Several years ago, God provided the opportunity for me to go on several missions trips to various countries. Each of these countries were vastly beautiful with God’s natural creation, yet just to look at the children close by was a stark reminder of the poverty they lived in.  As I left the airport I was shocked at the site of children begging, their clothes tattered and torn, and their little eyes so weary from the worries of life.  Despite the fact that the caregivers were trying their very hardest at what they knew to do,  I was saddened by seeing babies lying in their cribs day in and day out with very little attention.   These little ones were rocking back and forth to soothe themselves most of the day.  One caretaker told us that if we took a baby from a bed, to put them back in the same bed as their names and birthdates were written on a little piece of tape to each bed; otherwise they would not know who they were.  Their cloth diapers were only changed a few times a day and were so thick that these little ones could not roll over or even touch their toes. Bottles were propped and they were not held while they ate. In the bottles was a mixture of pureed vegetables and potatoes.  With streams of tears running down my face and a loss of what to do, I did at that moment the only thing I felt I could do, I gently told each one of them, “Jesus loves you so much”.

The older children, ages 4 and 5, flocked to you like a magnet just wanting a smile and some attention. If you sat down on the floor with them, they sat with you and would not let you get up. When you did leave, they would bang their heads on the floor crying at the top of their lungs. How my heart broke and once again, tears streamed down my face for these precious forgotten children.

But… they are not forgotten, no not a single child!!  Jesus our savior knows every detail of their heart and soul. He wants the very best for them in a family and someone who will tell them on a daily, moment-by-moment basis how much Christ loves them and wants a personal relationship with them. He knows them not by a piece of tape with a name and birthdate written on it, but he knows them as HIS child.

Once again we ask ourselves, how do we deal with the number of orphans in this world?  How do we feel like we can make a difference? Anyone can make a difference even if you are 7 or 107 years old.  ALL believers are called to help! Each and every one of us who have Christ as our Savior are united together into one body of believers.

1 Corinthians 12:20 says: But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”: nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you”.

Here at Lifeline we are also of one body in Christ.  We work together as a team to help make a difference for as many of His precious children as we can! 

So, now the question is for you - Can you foster, or adopt, pray or give of your resources, or time? We would love to talk with you about Lifeline and how you can be a part of HIS hands and feet for HIS children. Please pray and give us a call.

Angela Beemer, Lifeline Children's Services of Kansas Administrative Assistant

Thursday, June 21, 2012

His Timing

My name is Lauren and I have recently joined the Lifeline family. I am serving as a foster care recruiter and trainer for new foster parents in Lee County, Alabama. I am so excited to have joined in with Lifeline and that I am able to be a small part of witnessing Christian families serving as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Through God’s provision, we will be able to witness these foster families making an eternal difference in the life of a child by teaching these children God’s love for them. Although I am very excited to have this opportunity, I should forewarn you that I am not a blogger and that this is my first experience in blogging so bare with me.

I have been thinking of what I would like to share for sometime now and I keep coming back to God’s timing. I have always thought of myself as a very patient person. Through my many adventures to get to Lifeline, I have begun to realize that I am not as patient as I thought I was. Before I started with Lifeline, there was not a Lifeline ministry in Lee County. I previously worked for the Department of Human Resources completing Child Abuse and Neglect Assessments. This job was extremely hard, but very rewarding. There were many times where I felt like I could not go another day, but I am well aware that Jesus led me through those trials. In November, I left my position at the Department of Human Resources and took a huge leap of faith. It was very scary, but I felt that God was leading my path. I was no longer able to serve as the mother and wife I wanted to be due to the stress I was experiencing at the time. This is where I lead into God’s timing. He led me through two amazing years at DHR that gave me so much experience and knowledge into Child Welfare. When I left, I knew that I still wanted to work in Child Welfare in some way, but I was not sure how this would look. I prayed constantly that God would find me a place that would allow me to continue to serve children through social work, but would allow me the time to be the mother I have to be. It is amazing how God answers prayers. Almost immediately after leaving DHR, I was told at church one Sunday that our church was working with Lifeline Children Services to start a foster care ministry. At the time I thought this was very interesting and that I might be able to volunteer, but never considered they might be hiring. I should add that my family had recently moved to the area two years before and had tried several churches to see which church God was calling us to. Cornerstone Church was our first visit and even though we visited several other churches, we always felt pulled back to Cornerstone.
Shortly later, I was contacted by an employee of our church and also a foster parent who I had previously placed children with, that Lifeline was looking to hire a foster care worker and if I was interested, this is the name and number that I should call. Wow! I was amazed and I think I sent an email within the hour! I knew that this was God’s plan for my life.

I was hired within the next two months and have slowly started making contacts in Lee County Churches to initiate our foster care ministry. I am so happy to say that we start our very first foster care training class this next Monday night. I feel that this is just the first of many amazing things that the Lord is going to do in Lee County. We have amazing support including a wonderful DHR team and an amazing family court Judge who is very dedicated to seeing more Christian homes in our county. We are all thrilled at what we will be able to do in the lives of our families here. It is still amazing to me that God placed my family at the right church, knowing that years later this would church would be called into an incredible foster care ministry and that God would bless me with being a part of this ministry.  I know that God has placed all of these events to take place at the right time, His Timing! This gives me the knowledge to realize that when something does not happen as I expect or want it to; it does not mean that I should be discouraged or give up. It may simply mean that it is not meant to happen at this time.
“To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under the Heaven” Ecclesiastes 3:1

“But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O Lord, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy Salvation.” Psalm 69:13
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Lauren Penton, Foster Care Social Worker

Friday, June 15, 2012

This is War

Comfortable, peaceful, my own way I’ll strive,
Millions more walk around, not even alive.

Little discomfort, always something delightful to eat,
While droves of children with mud pies, no hope, surviving on the street.

There’s a war around me, am I ready to fight?
Am I armed with God’s truth, His spirit, His might?

I have everything I need to wage this war,
Yet, so often waking, for me, wanting “more.”

More acceptance, more security, more comfort and relief,
Now brought to my knees reminded, “this is war”, only the gospel brings peace.

Fathers, the fatherless, many in darkness so black,
Lost and unable to see the constant attack.

When wartime is real, we do not even open the door,
before we hear the shots, the cries, and people fall to the floor.

As believers we stand, with the power of the King.
Ready to wage war, confident His glory, He will bring.

Fully armed Body, ready to march forward,
Belt-breastplate-shield, helmet and sword.

Let’s look around us, without fear,
Fervently praying for those who’ve not yet heard, to hear.

The battle we must fight, His righteousness our sight,
The Savior has come, the war has been won.

The Body of Christ, stand ready to fight,
Not against flesh and blood, but against powers of the dark with hatred toward light.

Let’s exhort one another to spend our lives for God’s glory and fame,
Worthy of breathing, living, and fighting, is No other Name.

Krisha Yanko, Development and Marketing Director

 Ephesians 6:10-18
10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.

Philippians 1: 18-30
            Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.
            Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Love is just the skin of knowing..

Seven years ago, I married a guy I thought I knew well and honestly, I had no idea the gift God gave me in him on that day.  He has used my husband nearly every day since that sweet day to stretch my heart in ways I never dreamed possible.

Eight months ago God gave us this little guy to stretch our hearts in new and incredibly beautiful ways.

I love a quote from The Shack that reads, "So many believe it is love that grows, but it is knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it. Love is just the skin of knowing.” 

"...Love is just the skin of knowing."  The more I know my husband, and the more we get to know our son the MORE WE LOVE.

Then I think of these words…

"Love the Lord your God with ALL your Heart and with ALL your soul and with ALL your mind and with ALL your strength." Mark 12:30. Ouch.

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with ALL your heart." Jeremiah 29:13. Ouch, again.

How can I love my God with ALL of me and not love His word and thirst for time spent in fellowship with Him above ALL else?

I confess this, that there are days when the urgent crowds out the important, days when I get so wrapped up in parenting and working and serving;  and even times, if I am really being honest, when I am just plain selfish.

Then when my heart is pricked, I make time to sit and savor His word and I read something like this, from Ephesians 1:3-14, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory.  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory."

His word, and time spent with Him, completely takes my breath away. I am reminded of the lyrics of a song: “In the quiet, in the stillness, I know that You are God. In the secret of Your presence, I know there I am restored. When You call I won’t refuse! Each new day again I’ll choose! There is no one else for me, none but Jesus! Crucified to set me free, now I live to bring Him praise.”

How can I not desire this time with Him in the same way I desire time to fully know and be known by my sweet husband and little boy?  Each morning, may I wake to look eagerly into His face the way I do my child's. May I hunger for His love above my husband's love.  May I always choose His voice over a thousand others. May I search out the riches of God, may I eagerly learn to know HIS WAY, and may I love Him more for it.
Lauren Strickland, South Alabama Social Worker

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In Love and in Season

Christians are obligated to share the word of God with unbelievers.  There are times when we may find ourselves at a loss for words.  God will open the door for each of us to minister to the hearts and minds of those who are hurting, lost, and broken.  In those times we have to remember the words God spoke to Moses, "Now go, I will help you speak and will teach you what to say".

Each morning I ask God to direct me in my speech.  My time at Lifeline Village has taught me the importance of speaking the right word at the right time.  Roger Ray wrote the below poem and the words remind me daily to speak in love and in season.

Kesha Franklin, Lifeline Village Program Coordinator

The Right Words

Lord, give me the right words to say
To broken hearts that come my way
To those who have been hurt before
That, I not hurt them any more

To those whose hearts have hardened up
To those who won't hold out their cup
That, Lord, You long to overflow
With love and mercy.  Lord, let me know

That I might have the words to say
That I might plant a seed today
That glory would be given to You
Through all I say and all I do

Lord, give me the right words to say
More hearts are breaking every day
They're out there crying in the night
I long to help them see the light

But, fragile are those souls and weak
So this is why Your words I seek
And pray Thee give me words to say
That I, not one soul, turn away.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

"Respectable" Sins

Last week, I began reading a book that I have read before but felt the need to reread. This book is called Respectable Sins. The premise of the book is that all sin is a crime against God, but we have made certain sins “respectable.” These sins include: jealousy, pride, over eating, envy, etc. Of these four just mentioned, I am chiefly guilty, and I too have fallen prey to the belief that they are “ok.”

I live as though my sin only affects me, and I have missed the glaring truth that MY SIN is what crucified my Savior. Every time I tolerate these sins in myself, I “presume on God’s grace.” I nullify all that he has done and essentially spit in His face along with those that did that very thing while He was led to the cross. 

I do not understand the sufficiency of what Christ did for me on the cross. Romans 6:10 says, “For the death He died He died to sin, once for all, but the life He lives he live to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
I LONG for a proper understanding of Christ’s sufficiency! For as this understanding grows my tendency towards sin, even the “respectable” ones, will diminish because I am seeking eternal pleasure (Christ) over temporary pleasure.  My object of focus should not be my sin, but my Savior. He IS sufficient to save, and His death paid the price for my life.  “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By His wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter 3:24-25)

I leave you with a quote from the author of Respectable Sins. May we not see our sins as an island that affects only ourselves. May we recognize that our sins spits in the face of a Savior that has set us free!
“. . . as God is holy, all holy, only holy, altogether holy, and always holy, so sin is sinful, all sinful, only sinful, altogether sinful, and always sinful . . .Whether it is large or small in our eyes, it is heinous in the sight of God. God forgives our sin because of the shed blood of Christ, but He does not tolerate it. Instead, every sin that we commit, even the subtle sin that we don’t even think about, was laid upon Christ as he bore the curse of God in our place. And herein lies chiefly the malignancy of sin. Christ suffered because of our sin.” ~ Jerry Bridges

“All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Isaiah 53:6

Jessica Oetting, Administrative Assistant

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Streams of Mercy...

"to choose to take as one's own; make one's own by selection; to take or receive into any kind of new relationship." 
"to affirm, embrace, seize, take over"

           My name is Hillary and I am currently working at Lifeline! I just joined the family a few weeks ago and I am so happy to be blogging today!
A few weeks ago I was asked to blog about my adoption story. So my prayer is that you are encouraged and filled up with the Father’s love and affection for you as you read what He has done in my life!
At six weeks old, I was adopted into a wonderful family. I have a wonderful mother, father, and older brother. Through the years I have also gained a sister-in-law and a niece and a nephew who is due in a few months!
            I always knew I was adopted. My parents always told me I was adopted, and always wanted me to know. They always told me I was theirs from the beginning and that they never wanted to keep it from me. The funny thing is when I tell people I am adopted, they look very surprised because I look a lot like my mom and dad! Even my best friend in high school didn’t believe I was adopted!
            I grew up in an amazing and loving home. My family is very important to me and I am so thankful that the Lord chose them to be my family. Through the Lord, I have been blessed with a huge family on my dad’s side (30+ cousins!) and a small, loving and caring family on my mom’s side. There was never a time in my life that I didn’t feel loved by my family. My mom tells me stories of the first day they brought me home from the agency. She told me of the many family members and friends that came by the house the first day I was home. So it is safe to say, I was loved from the moment my parents brought me home.
            Again, I went through life always knowing I was adopted. Though at a young age I didn’t really understand what that meant. As I became older, I grew more and more interested about my birth mom. We did not have much information on her except we knew she was a young teenager when she became pregnant. When I was in 10th grade, I became even more interested in finding out who my birth mother is. My English teacher in high school gave a persuasive writing assignment one day in class. A topic that was listed was “Open v Closed Adoption.” She approached me and said that she thought I would like to write on this because she knew I was adopted. From there, I began researching about open and closed adoption which led me to contacting my adoption agency to ask them about these topics. A long story short, I finished the paper with a greater knowledge on these topics but also with a new interest.
            After I finished the paper, I remember riding in the car with my mom and asking her about possibly contacting my birth mom. At first, I was nervous because I didn’t want to hurt my parents by asking them about my birth mom. But again, I know the Lord chose them to be my parents for a reason. From the very beginning, my parents have been 110% supportive. I know this process was extremely hard for them. I knew it was going to be hard to somewhat, let me go and find out “who I am.” While in the car, my mom told me that I had a letter that my birth mother had written me. At the time I didn’t know that I had a letter, so I was really anxious to read it. The agreement was that when I turned 18, I would be able to read the letter.
            So fast forward a few years and it is my 18th birthday. My parents handed me a handwritten letter that my birth mother had written 18 years ago. At first I didn’t cry when I read it, but a few months later, I sat down by myself and read the letter again and began to cry. I cried because my birth mother told me how much she loved me and that she wanted the best for me. I cried because I saw how a young teenager had to make such a grown-up decision. Reading her letter made me realize that she had to give up a lot in order that I could live and have a life she wanted me to have. I never had a doubt that my birth mother didn’t love me. And through the letter, I began seeing not only her heart but the Lord’s heart for me.

I will not leave you as orphans;
I will come to you.
-John 14:18

            The letter sparked many thoughts about where I came from and what my birth mother was like. When I turned 19, I was able to access my file at the adoption agency and begin searching for my birth mother. It took a few months but when we found her, I really wanted to communicate with her. Through the social worker at the agency, my birth mother and I were able to communicate through emails. She told me where she has been the past few years and what she was doing now. She even sent me current pictures of her and her family. It was really neat being able to see what she looks like and getting to see that she has a family of her own! I was able to tell her about myself through emails, but I felt that I was unable to communicate what I was feeling. I expressed to her that I really would like to have a phone call with her and be able to talk verbally. So a few months pass, and the time came for she and I to talk on the phone. I was nervous, excited, along with other emotions. When she picked up the phone, it was awkward at first, but then we began talking. One thing I will never forget from the phone call is that Jen (my birth mom) told me that she never forgot about me and that she always thought of me. I knew that she probably thought of me but hearing her say that just made me stand back and realize the sacrifice she made 20 years ago. I explained to her that I really wanted to talk on the phone so that I could express how thankful I am. I was able to share with her what the Lord had done in my life because of the choice she made 20 years ago. I told her that I really wanted to meet her so I could thank her in person. I will always remember that day and how I became even more thankful for God’s sovereignty not only in my life, but in Jen’s life as well.
            So what does being adopted mean to me? Being adopted has added a lot to my life. I probably wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for Jen’s decision. About two years ago, the Lord really opened my eyes to what being adopted means. Going back to the letter she wrote me, seeing how much she truly loved me, the Lord opened my eyes to see that just like Jen, He too had given up so much for me to live. He had given up His Son so that I could live and have the life He always wanted me to have. He too faced the pain, of given up someone that He loved so dearly so that other’s might live. He has dreams for me and plans for me that I cannot even fathom. Though I was saved at age 13, I began to fall in love with the Lord even more through this new journey in my life. As I tried to process all of what the Lord was showing me, He revealed even more to me! He brought these verses to my mind:

“For you formed my inward parts;
You knitted me together in my
Mother’s womb.
I praise You, for I am fearfully and
wonderfully made.
Wonderful are Your works;
My soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden
from You,
when I was made in the secret,
intricately woven in the depths of
the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed
in Your book were written, every one
Of them,
The days that were formed for me,
When as yet there was none of them.”
-Psalm 139:13-16 (ESV)

Though I had heard and read this verse many times in my life, this was the first time I began to actually see this verse come alive. The Lord began reminding me that He had (and still has) a plan for me even before I was thought of, even before He created the universe, before all these things, He knew me. I began to cry thinking of how great the Father is! The days that are before me now, “…were formed for me.” You and I have a purpose here. I wasn’t some mistake in a teenager’s life and you weren’t a mistake either. The Lord began to pour His thoughts into my mind and tell me that He has a plan for my life. In the midst of graduating college, trying to find a job, a place to live, in all the craziness, He, the Creator of everything you and I see, has a plan not just for me, but for every single person. He has a plan that is better than anything I can ever imagine. Knowing that my future is in the hands of a Sovereign and Faithful God quieted my anxious heart. My heart became so full of how He has orchestrated every single detail in my life (big and small). 
Being adopted has opened so many doors in my life. I have been able to connect with others around me, and tell them my story. I have also been given so many opportunities in my life. I have been blessed with an amazing family and friends. I have been able to go on several mission trips and most importantly, I have been able to hear the gospel proclaimed throughout my life. Through Jen’s self-less decision, and through the Lord’s renewing mercies, I have been given “a hope and a future.”

For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a
spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption
[the Spirit producing sonship]
in [the bliss of] which
we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!
-Romans 8:15 (Amplified Bible)

Throughout this journey, the Lord has given me a heart for the orphans in our world today. He has also given me a burden for the young women who find themselves in a crisis pregnancy or who have taken the route of abortion. The Lord opened my eyes to see how these women need Him just as much as you and I do. Though I rejoice that the Lord has saved me, I don’t need to just stop there. I need to, as Psalm 107:2 says, “Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story…” I need to tell my story to as many that will hear. He has brought life into these bones so that I may proclaim Him in all that I do. So, through our rejoicing, let us also lift up a mighty roar to Heaven with our prayers for those who have yet to know who Jesus is and proclaim Him as their Savior! Again, He has created us for a higher purpose!
            Many asked me during the process of finding my birth mom, “What if she doesn’t want to know anything about you?” or “What if she doesn’t want to talk to you?” Though I had asked myself the same questions, the Lord calmed my fears with His voice of Truth. He reminded me that even if Jen didn’t want to know anything about me or didn’t want to have communication with me, it doesn’t matter. My identity isn’t in what other people tell me. My identity is found in the Father. He sees me as His child and calls me His beloved, and if all others forsake me, He will remain the same. I have seen the gospel more clearly even through these past few years. I have seen how my life, without Christ, is just like the orphans we work with. I was hopeless, fatherless, and homeless. But through the Lord’s Sovereign hand, I have been given hope, a family, and now, a new name. What an amazing Father you and I have!

But when the time arrived that set by God the Father,
God sent His Son, born among us of a woman,
born under the conditions of the law
so that He might redeem those of us who have been
kidnapped by the law.
Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage.
You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted
as His own children because God sent the Spirit of His Son
into our lives crying out, "Papa! Father!"
Doesn't that privilege of intimate conversation 
with God make it plain that 
you are not a salve,
but a child?
And if you are a child, you're 
also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.
-Galatians 4:4-7 (The Message)

Hillary Dickey, Administrative Assistant