Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Latest with the Rays

1) Josh started graduate school! He is taking two classes at Harding Graduate School of Religion, working toward a Masters of Divinity. He has not officially finished at UofM yet. He has a senior project that has to be turned in this fall; then he'll be completely done! Since I met Josh we have been working toward his desire to be educated and trained for ministry. Now, after 5+ years of working full time and going to school full time, he is finally where he wants to be. He has been an amazing example to me of setting goals and working very, very hard to reach them. It has not been a totally smooth, easy time but I think both of us have grown through these years of his undergrad work. I am so proud of him!

2) Now about adoption. Thanks to many of you who have asked me about this since my last couple of posts. There is much to say about this. Many of our close friends have known for some time about our desire to adopt. As we discussed our desire for a family, we realized through a series of events that we both had an interest in adoption. Since then, we have been through months of praying, researching, talking to others, and becoming knowledgeable about our options. So far we have discerned that for us, the best route is to adopt internationally from Ethiopia. As you probably guessed if you watched the video from my last post, my heart has been touched forever by learning about the state of the people in Ethiopia. There are so many children out in the world and in our own city who need homes and families. We are not doing this to be heroes by any means. We want to have a family. We want to be parents. By adopting a child we can accomplish this while also giving a child a chance at a life with a family. As I read in a book recently, God has blessed each of us in order that we may bless others. I feel so blessed by the life I was given. I now hope we are going to able to bless the life of a child. I plan to post a more detailed synopsis of how we came to this decision when we are further along.

For now, I hope you will pray for us as we begin the home study process. We meet with our social worker this Friday. Also, please feel free to look at the website for the agency we are using. There are many photos posted there of the beautiful children from Ethiopia.
As for timeline? We will know more after our meeting Friday about the timeline of our homestudy. We think the entire process will take 6-12 months... so as I said there is much time to tell about the "rest" of the story. So I will give more details as we go along.

3) School is now on a roll for the teens in HYG. They are already facing so many challenges and temptations again that they were able to break from during the summer. Please join me as we pray for them to be strong in their convictions to live up to God's standards and for them to want to do right because they are motivated by God's love for them.

Monday, August 14, 2006

A link for you

Here's a little video I watched today that made me bawl. If this doesn't get you, you seriously have a hard heart. :) So, if you have nine extra minutes and a desire to feel sentimental and inspired, click here. Then click on "watch video". The topic is "Out of Africa" and its about adoption from Ethiopia.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The heat is on

Have you noticed that the whole country is so HOT this year? I am not very knowledgable about the "global warming" warnings we have been receiving since grade school, but this year I would have to say I am seeing it as a possibility. I just don't remember a summer this hot ever in Memphis. Our camp week was in the low 100s all week with not a drop of rain. Two days ago we had the first rain in a long while and it finally cooled the temps down for a day to the 80s. Wow, it was great. I am such a summer person... I love the sun, I love how it gets light so early in the morning, I love the late sundowns, I love vacations (not that I've really done a sun vacation this year) and I love the youth group in the summer. But I am actually ready for a change.

Luckily our night at the Redbirds (the Cardinals's AAA Team) game was the less hot night, in the 80s. I loved it! A few pics of the evening can be found on my flickr.com site. (click here)

On another note: I have had many of you ask questions since I mentioned adoption in a recent blog entry. I plan to be more detailed about our plans very soon. For now, visit this site for a clue. Thanks for your prayers!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Reflections on the summer

The office is quiet today. The interns are off and they have already cleaned out their offices. We have a goodbye party for them on Sunday after church. As usual, I have a mixture of emotions. I am sad to see them leave. All four have given their heart and soul to this youth ministry, and each one has had an impact on individual lives.

Just a little message for each of them:
Jess: I love your passion for teenagers. You are so gifted for this type of ministry. When you walk in a room it's instantly a "funner" place. Yet it is obvious that your relationship with Lord is what you are serious about. I cannot wait to see how God uses you in the future!
Jenna: Our mission trip to New Orleans will be a forever memory. You are one of the sweetest (I know, that's so cliche, but seriously!) people I have ever known. You have a tender compassionate heart toward all, and I know that God will lead you to the place where you can serve Him best.
Ty: It has been such a blessing to watch you with people this summer. You have a way of blessing others just by how you interact with them; with gentleness and genuine interest in them. You are fair and have not played favorites, you just loved on whoever was around you.
Matt: Again, New Orleans mission trip was a great memory. I am thankful for your desire to be serious about growing in the Lord, and I know that you connected with some teens who are also serious about it. I know you will continue this growth and I am sure God has a ministry for you regardless of your "job" in the future.

My prayer for each of you in HYG for this fall is the same as always. I pray that you will be a light to those around you. I pray that you will be confident in yourself, not because of what you have accomplished, but because God made you in his image. I pray that you will not fall to the pressures of the world, but that you will be able to stand strong and hold to what you believe. I pray that all of you will avoid the pitfalls teenagers typically face today, especially those sins the consequences of which are long lasting and so damaging. I pray you will pursue righteousness (doing right, as Cade said) at all times and you will pursue a relationship with the Lord above all else, even grades or sports or music. I pray that when you are in your schools, you will love those around you who are hurting and ignored, those who are hardest to love, and that when people see you acting this way, they will see something different in you. I pray that God will give you at least one friend this year with whom you can share you faith in a natural and authentic way. I pray that you will feel loved by your family and your church family and that you will feel a sense of community when you come to church. I pray that you will find friends who share your desire to be faithful who will remind you of Jesus when you are being pulled by the world.

Lastly, I pray one of Paul's prayers for you:
Philippians 1:9-11 (CEV)
I pray that your love will keep on growing and that you will fully know and understand how to make the right choices. Then you will still be pure and innocent when Christ returns. And until that day, Jesus Christ will keep you busy doing good deeds that bring glory and praise to God.

For all your educators out there, you are in my prayers as well.
May God bless this school year.