an open letter to our children about denomination & religion

To our children,

More than anything we want you to know the truth that you are loved unconditionally. You are daughters and sons of the King. God loves you so much that He gave His only son for YOU and overcame this world. You are His, not ours. He entrusted us with you.

We know that we can not parent you alone. We need Him and we surrender you daily to Him. We must. We never want to get in the way of His plan for your life.

Years ago, He revealed to us that we needed a written plan for our family – a “mission statement” of sorts. Some families make rules; we felt led to make a mission. As you already know because you hear us say it and see it on the walls of our home, our mission is:

God. People. Eternity.

God
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. There is no commandment greater than this. (Matthew 12:30)

People
The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than this. (Matthew 12:31)

We need to pause here and add that it goes on to say:
“To love Him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he had answered wisely, he said to him, “you are not far from the Kingdom of God.”

I think it’s safe to say that these two are most important. That acknowledging and living the most important will make you not far from your Heavenly Father, who knows the number of hairs on your head and has the greatest plan for your life to prosper…a plan to not harm you, but to give you hope and a future. Trust us, you want to know the importance of these. Better yet, trust Him, your Heavenly Father….for His ways are higher than ours.

Eternity
You do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4:14)

Our hope is that our family can live with an eternal perspective, focusing on eternity because our life is so short compared to our eternity, and that the sufferings of this time and this world are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed to us! We are just passing through this life on the way to eternity. We have a fill-in-the-blank that we live by, you know this. When we are faced with ANYTHING, we can look through our eternal lens:

“How important is ____________ in light of eternity?”
“In light of eternity, how can I handle/respond/think/speak about ________?”

There is ALWAYS a different way of looking at everything when you look through your eternal lens.

With this being said, we want to encourage you when you’re faced in life with denominations and religion. We aren’t giving you information on theology. We aren’t giving you a blog to read on doctrine or a 5,000 page book on historic Christian faith or Wikipedia links on *our* certain denomination and why it is *our* certain denomination because here is the thing: In our family, we believe the bible. The WHOLE bible. From Genesis to the maps in the back. We don’t just focus on certain parts of the bible and we certainly don’t waste time arguing why that certain part is most important because here is the other thing: It’s ALL important!  Even the parts we are uncomfortable with. God isn’t concerned about our comfort, dear child.  He’s concerned about our character. He is FOR you and how you will spend eternity. Even the parts we can’t wrap our minds around. That’s why it’s called “faith”. Faith is believing what we can’t see, so how can we say we are Christians that have faith to believe in God we can’t see, but don’t believe in certain parts of the bible because it doesn’t make sense! I’m sure it’s obvious to you from living in our home all these years that God’s way does NOT make sense! We are believing that by God’s grace and promises of His truth, that by the time you read this you’ve felt the reaping of blessings from sowing the seeds of a mind that is set apart.

Don’t take our word for it though. Here is what your Heavenly Father has to say about denominations:

I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. (1 Corinthians 1:10)

What I mean is that each one of you says, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “ I follow Cephas,” or “I follow Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Corinthians 1:12-13)

There is one body and one Spirit – just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call – one Lord, one faith, one baptism…. (Ephesians 4:4-5)

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to what you have been taught. Avoid them! (Romans 16:17)

We include these to confirm to you what we have already seen….Pastors ripping other pastors apart for “negative” gospel teaching or for “positive” gospel teaching. Fellow believers standing around arguing about Joe falling away from the church and why. This, children, makes it easy to see why the lost and hurting don’t want to be a part of the body of Christ. Think different! We are all tired of the church letting it be known what they are against. Let it be known what you are FOR – (God) God is for us. Our sins are forgiven. God has something special for EVERY person. Even Joe! (People) Joe is hurting. In fact, everyone is hurting about something. It is very evident in scripture that the lost and hurting are on God’s mind. (Eternity – what really matters) What is Joe’s eternity going to be like when he walks away from the “church” because the truth is snuffed out?

Children! Go after Joe! Leave the 99 (or the 99,000) and go after the 1. Ironically, when you were babies, there was a cute little acronym believers wore on bracelets and printed on bumper stickers – WWJD – What Would Jesus Do. Leaving the 99 and going after the 1, that is what Jesus would do.  In fact, that is what He did!  Loving Joe is what Jesus would do.

You love so well, dear children. You hearts are for the hurting; we know they are. You don’t have to know theology to love Joe; he doesn’t care what you know, he just wants to know you care. You just have to get in Joe’s life a bit. Fill in the blank: “How important are those arguments in light of Joe’s eternity?!” Focus on what really matters when it comes to Joe. God has a vision and Joe is part of it!

Go ahead and buy Joe a cup of coffee, pull up a chair and listen; words are not always necessary in sharing the gospel. And when the Holy Spirit prompts you, tell Joe all about what God has done in your life. Share how He speaks to you through the bible – the one and only authoritative Word of God. This is God’s economy and when you live and walk in God’s economy, hurting people like Joe will not have to be told, he’ll see. He’ll feel God’s presence. He’ll wonder what’s up in your life that makes it so peaceful with all the noise and all the darts being thrown your way. And one day, Joe will ask you and you can share that redemption is in Christ, that regeneration by His Spirit is essential, that you were saved by His grace and it’s by nothing you do in your own efforts. You can share with Joe that God wants to transform him not so he’ll do right, but so he’ll be right and become new! You can share with Joe that he too can be sanctified and Christ and His power can dwell in him. That he doesn’t have to be a priest or have a super spiritual title to have a direct line to God. That he can have peace that surpasses all understanding. That he too can walk by His Spirit and not by his flesh and watch God work miracles in his life. He’ll see something different in you. It will be that you’re a part of the church that is the body of Christ, the habitation of God through the Spirit, with divine appointments (like yours with Joe) for the fulfillment of Jesus’ Great Commission. That every person (Yes, even Joe!) who is born of the Spirit is a vital part of the church as a member of the body of Christ! Joe WILL discover his unique spiritual gift that your Father gave him and he WILL walk in his God ordained purpose! Joe WILL respond to our culture with Spirit of grace and truth because truth is what set Joe free and truth is the only thing that will set others free. This is the life we’re choosing to speak over Joe, child. In Jesus’ name, Joe will see that it isn’t about church membership. No, it’s not about walking down front and filling out a card. It’s about a real relationship with the one true and living God.

Dear children, America is full of religion that has a name. Christianity is not religion. Religion will tell you that you need to conform to be spiritually enough; a relationship with Jesus will TRANSform you. Religion says DO; Jesus says it’s already DONE. Religion says “God will love you if….” Jesus says “God so loved you that….”

Children, the world will tell you that your style of worship is too “contemporary”, but by now you have felt God’s presence when you worship the way the bible speaks of. You’ve felt how it flips your situation around and makes your God bigger than your problems. Keep your hearts set on His truth and knowledge of the ancient Greek and Hebrew words written in God’s Holy Word when describing worship:
Halel – to rave, boast, celebrate
Yadah – to acknowledge in public
Barak – to bless by kneeling or bowing
Zamar – making music to God with strings
Shabach – to address in a loud tone
Towdah – to lift hands in adoration
Tehilah – exuberant singing

Dear children, as you see, it makes sense that this style of worship is actually the “traditional” style. That this style of worship is not about you, it’s about Him. That your act of worship is not about what song you like and how it makes you feel, but about giving to Him. After all, it’s the one thing you can give Him of yourself and the more you give, the more He’ll bless! Our worship is love expressed and it can’t be based on what WE want, but what HE wants. Keep giving your all to Him, not your left-overs after you scream your heart out foolishly at the football game on Saturday night. Keep losing yourself in Him. He will bless that.

Theology is a good thing. After all, it’s of God. But remember the truth that there is an enemy that comes to kill, steal, and destroy. It is obvious to us at the writing of this letter that the enemy will use it to divide the church. This is no surprise to God though. In fact, God promises you will have trouble in this world. But take heart, dear child, God has overcome the world. You’re fighting from victory, not to it. And He came so that you may have life and have it to the fullest.

Love God. Love people. And gaze at God and eternity. And since heaven and hell are very real, for Heaven’s sake (yours and his), chase after Joe!

PA! (Pre Approval From China)

Today we got our PA from China. This means that the CCCWA received our LOI (Letter of Intent) and granted us favorable decision. Which basically means China says SHE IS OURS!  And we can now share her with the world!

I went to her file to save her pictures to share them on this post. As I right clicked on each image, I noticed that it said “unnamed” in the title bar inside the window pop-up to save it. I’ve never noticed this until tonight. How appropriate that I get to delete, delete, backspace, delete, backspace, backspace, DELETE those letters and type in F A R R A H. This is the perfect picture of adoption. The world says unwanted.God says – I want all of you. The world says unnamed. God says – I have written your name in the book of life and hold you in the palm of My hands. The world gave her a number to wear on a sticker on her chest – one XXX of 147 million orphans. God says – A Father to the fatherless, is God in His holy dwelling.

A little about today because I want to document….

I was at a friends and missed the call. I got a call from John Taylor and he had gotten the call too! It’s sort of great that I got to hear he news from him instead of our social worker. Made it even sweeter.

We are beyond excited to introduce you to Farrah Ree. We are honored to be Farrah’s forever family.

The first picture we ever saw of her:

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Some new pictures that were taken in June!  These are our faves!

farrah edited 1

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Thanks for all the prayers and for celebrating with us!  We love y’all!

Farrah’s Forever Family

On July 9, 2014 we said yes to a little girl in Maoming China that was once waiting on her forever family.  The term “paper pregnant” really does ring true because pregnant was precisely the exact feeling I had when it was official.  I didn’t know if I should start cleaning the house top to bottom or start hyperventilating about the plane ride across the (GULP) ocean.  If you know me, I opted out of the cleaning and went ahead and googled “can you take a boat to China”.  I then proceeded to reaffirm myself every 27 minutes by telling myself the truth that He doesn’t lead us to one thing to destroy another.  (by the way — you CAN go to China on a boat an apparently people do this all the time.  You can take a freighter and it takes 10 days to get there.  When I exclaimed this wonderful news to JT, he glared at me and stated “I’m NOT bringing my baby home on a freighter!”)  My fear of flying has been overcome with faith in this journey.  Only ONE could write this story and weave it all together so perfectly.  I look forward to watching Him move mountains to get our little girl home.

This is all so new to us, so I don’t know what we can share and what we want to share now.  I do know that we can’t share her photo with you quite yet, but oh my goodness! Get ready.  Hash tag themostbeautifulbabygirlinallofchina  And of course I want to write every single detail here on the blog, but who has time for that when I’m printing, scanning, faxing, emailing, signing, and FedExing 158 documents per day to our adoption agency.

Her name is Farrah.  And she is ours.  I never knew I could love a child that I never met this much.

Dear Farrah,
I think of you all day and all night.  I pray for you every time I think of you.  Your Daddy and I pray for you together every night.  I saved Beijing time on my phone so I could see what time it is there.  It seems that every time I look at it, you’re sleeping.  I take that to mean that you need my prayers then, so I pray.  I pray for Him to surround you with His mighty warrior angels to guard you and protect you.  I pray for your little heart and for Him to prepare it for the transition that is to come.  I pray for your nannies. I pray an emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual blessing over you.  I don’t know every little detail about you and for now that is ok. I will have to be satisfied knowing that you love veggies and eggs, but not meat, that you love to color, and that you love the light up toy and plasma car.  I can’t wait to share the story of how our Heavenly Father brought you to us and how I was drawn to your eyebrow furrow because it reminded me of your Daddy’s.  It’s now 2:00 in the afternoon there and you’re probably playing or napping.  It’s 1:00 am here and I need to be in bed.  I don’t sleep much anymore and probably won’t until you’re in our arms.

Your new Mommy,

Mommy

farrah puzzle IG

Please donate to our PUZZLE fundraiser!  Donate $10 (or amount of your choice) to our fundraiser “donate” button on our sidebar and we’ll write your name on the back of a puzzle piece!  Once it’s complete, we plan to frame it in a double glass frame in Farrah’s room so we can always see the names of the people that helped bring Farrah home!  Thank you and blessings!