First, if you have sent me an email or FaceBook message please know that I have read it and am so grateful!!! I just have not had time to respond but I will get back to you.
I am at the airport waiting for one of my many flights home and I am weeping over the comments to my last post and the emails and messages. You all FLOOR me! Thank you for the encouragement and your prayers...have I said that enough?
I am filled with joy and anticipation at seeing my family!!! But I cannot help but be so sad over leaving the boys. I have not been away from them that long and already my heart hurts...literally aches. I know some wonder if you can love your adopted kids with the same love you would have for biological kids, the answer is a resounding yes! I can't explain it, it's a God thing. I don't know that I would truly understand just how much the Father loves me, being adopted into His family, if I had not experienced the supernatural love I have for these little once strangers now beloved children God puts in our lives.
Now that I am out of the country and have had some time to separate from the trials there and get some fresh perspective, I want to write about so many things, but one thing strikes me especially hard today as I read comment after comment and email after email. And that is that I have taken the body of Christ for granted for way too long. I never put a whole lot of thought into how important it is to have brothers and sisters in Christ to meet with, talk to, and pray with. In the U.S. we take church for granted don't we?
Today it is such a joy to be the Father's adopted daughter and be among so many brothers and sisters. My thoughts are all over the place and words fail me to describe the lesson I have learned about the importance of having fellow believers to fellowship with (even over email and blogs). God knew we would need each other, and boy, do we ever need each other?!?! I remember there was a video going around about something like 'why I hate organized religion, but love Jesus'. I have to admit I did not watch it so I cannot say for sure what the young man meant. But I get the point that it is about faith in Jesus Christ, not faith in faith or faith in religion. It is about a personal relationship with Christ, yes, but where I disagree on the "religion" thing is that it is also about fellowship. God's design was for us to have that personal relationship with Him and then to stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, encouraging, helping, and building each other up as we, as one body, go out into the world and share the gospel. Each a different member of the body, each having our role and maybe even particular ministry, each gifted with unique spiritual gifts, but ultimately working together to reach the lost. Isn't that so true and shown in such wonder with the adoption of Valentin and Joey? We are doing our part and you are doing your part and together we all are rescuing two precious little creations of God.
My husband and I are proof that one CANNOT walk the road of faith and attempt to do acts of faith alone. I don't think God designed it that way. Could I have survived those dark days in the boys' country or the heartache of leaving them now with just my relationship with God, of course. But how much sweeter that God gives us each other. Am I making sense? We need each other, we need the church, we need the gathering together in fellowship to encourage and lift each other up (even if it is over email). I NEED my home church, I need my fellow brothers and sisters even if we have never met you in person. I am told that our brothers and sisters at our home church are in such deep and faithful prayer for us, and don't you know that means more to us then we could describe? Whether you are a familiar face to us or we have never met, we need you, Valentin and Joey need you.
I have seen how spiritually dead a country (2 countries now) can get when it forgets God and stops coming together in fellowship. It's awful, I don't know how else to describe it. So I am so very grateful for the trials and the loneliness, without which I would not have learned just how important continued faith and continued fellowship is!
I met a wonderful missionary friend right before I left. She and her husband have committed to at least 3 years in that country spreading the gospel to, trust me, a very lost people in need of the hope of Jesus Christ. They offered to keep our luggage for us at their apartment as I travel home so we don't have to drag all our stuff back and forth. It seemed like such a little thing to her, to come get our luggage and store it for us, but to me it was such a great blessing. More then just keeping our luggage, it showed me that in the midst of very depressed, hard, and hurting people that surrounded me in that country, here was this bright ray of light bringing help to me. She also brought me homemade muffins, again a small thing for her, but what a tremendous blessing to me, more to my soul then my tummy! And there was another pastor and his wife who were currently in another city but were willing to have their brother-in-law come get our luggage and hold it until they got back and they would keep it. Even in that dark country and in the midst of deep sorrow God provided two great representations of Himself in fellow believers.
So, because we have been blessed beyond measure with the prayers, support, and encouragement of fellow believers, I am renewing my commitment to pray for you. I wish I could bless each one of you the way you have blessed us. It's hard to receive so much and feel so helpless to do much in return. However, one thing we can do is pray. We will continue to pray for all of you, we don't know a lot of you, and most we don't even know by name, but we will pray for you and even when we don't know your needs or struggles, God does. For those of you, our friends and family, that we know your specific needs, we commit to continue in prayer for those specific needs and struggles. And of course if there is a specific prayer need, please write it in a comment and I absolutely will not publish it. But we certainly will pray. Let's do that for each other, isn't it the least we can do? I am convicted in a huge way that I don't do it enough.
I hope I am making some sort of sense, forgive me for being so 'long-winded', I am just jaw-to-the-floor in awe of my Father...all of this...the coming together, the prayer, the faith lessons, the love...for two precious boys that the world would have shoved aside. Without the efforts, prayers, and donations of many brothers and sisters in Christ those boys would be held captive...but because we are all doing as God had designed from the beginning they are being set free. And all the trials, hard lessons, heartache, and hours spent in prayer, and is worth that!