Friday, December 17, 2010

What if I get weary?

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,and I will give you rest." -Matthew 11:28

Anyone ever feel weary? Maybe you are seeking to know God’s will on something and you have been praying and no answer has come yet. Maybe you are going through something in your life; an illness, a financial problem, or a family problem. Maybe an adoption. :) Can I just be honest here? Sometimes I get weary, too. I work in a ministry where I see the life and death consequences of sin and it isn’t always the outcome I would hope for. I am trying to raise four children to be godly men and women and I won’t know if I did it right until it is too late. We have been praying for months that we would be in the center of God’s will while our emotions have ridden this rollercoaster that is adoption.

That is not to say my life isn’t overwhelming blessed. It really is more than I could have ever asked for. Sometimes, though, my emotions lag a little bit behind my faith and I get a little weary. So what should we do when we get weary? When we don't really feel like praying and would rather check out and watch tv? My four year old could probably shed some light here.

Sometimes Aiden (4) will climb up in my lap and lay his head on my chest. He is a pretty busy guy most of the time so these are sweet moments. He will say, “Mama, my love tank is empty.” I always reply, “Oh really? How many ‘loves’ do you think you need?” and he will smile and giggle a little as he tries to think of a big number. “26!” I will say “Oh my!” and proceed to squeeze him and cover his little face with kisses as he giggles. Of course, Aiden doesn’t know the kind of “weary” adults know. He does know that I love him and that he can have his “love tank” filled upon request.

So if I, an imperfect parent respond this way then why should I assume God would be any less willing? Why should I assume He is any less delighted for me to “crawl in His lap” and make my requests?
If you are feeling weary, or just have a prayer you really need answered I think you might enjoy watching the video below. And then come to the beautiful realization that the moment we really surrender to prayer, pour our hearts out to God, and beg Him to keep us in the center of His will; it is then that we realize we are already there. So what is it you are needing? Do you need strength like me? Or maybe you need peace? Patience? Comfort?

He delights in the asking.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Call to Young People

Today's motivation.

"Stop texting so much and get your face in the Text.
Stop facebooking so much and get your face in the Book."

If you have read prior posts you have probably picked up on the fact that I am not really buying this idea that teenagers are all lazy, self-centered, and have nothing to offer the world. I think this is a lie we have bought in to and then turned around and sold to a brand new generation.

And I'm not the only one who thinks this way. I ran across this little video a few weeks ago and thought it was worth sharing. If you have teenagers I hope you will show it to them and ask what they think.

We all need a little motivation sometimes. Everyone wants someone to believe in them. Does your teenager know that you do? I know it can be hard raising teenagers. I live with one! But we must not grow weary in doing good (Galatians 6:9).
And if by chance you are a teenager and you are reading this, please know that if no one else believes in you, God does. He wants you to know Him and He says He has a purpose for your life that is bigger than anything you can dream. So who are you going to believe? A call has been issued and how you answer will determine everything.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Power of Simplicity

I have been reminded lately that every now and then we have to get back to the basics. This is true in marriage, parenting, and especially our relationship with God. Simple can be profound. Over the past few months I have been studying more than ever before in that 66-book love letter God wrote us. Sometimes you start learning enough that you have to go back to the basics for a minute in order to keep it all in balance.

Enter a little video that stirred a little something in my spirit.

**I do have to give the disclaimer that whoever cut the video chose a bad place to do so. If you take issue with his statement in the beginning check out the entire message in context.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oh, how He loves us

“It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his Helper is omnipotent.”
- Jeremy Taylor

As I have mentioned before, waiting really isn’t my passion. It has been quite a struggle lately. We got our state background checks back saying we are “suitable to adopt”. Gee, thanks Alabama! :) Brian finished his internet training (if you know my procrastinator husband, then you know this is a big deal!) We are still praying about the country situation. Yes, that little, tiny, critical detail. I honestly don’t know how you decide something like that but we really need to do so like yesterday. In the middle of all of this Brian got out of the army and changed jobs. Crazy? Yeah, crazy is kind of our normal. So, this has given us some time to get all the new financial papers updated. I keep reminding myself it is all about God’s timing and that no matter how indecisive we are, we are not big enough to stop the will of God. Thank goodness!

On a funny note, I was really struggling last week with how all of these millions of details will possibly come together. Feeling very distressed, I was praying to God and just sharing all of my feelings. I told Him that I knew what He had said and that He was more than able but I needed Him to help me overcome some of the doubt I was struggling with. As it turns out I was starting a New Testament class where we are going through an intense study of – you guessed it – the New Testament. The first part is about Zechariah and how He was praying in the temple and God told him that He was going to give him a son. Zechariah didn’t believe God because it seemed impossible (he was old and his wife couldn’t have a baby). So, God did give him a son but because Zechariah hadn’t believed God, He made him mute for the duration of the pregnancy. I read this, remembering my prayers from the day before and I just had to laugh and say “ok, Lord. That helps”. If you ever wondered if God has a sense of humor, well I am convinced He does!! So no big updates yet, but I’m as convinced as ever that God is at work.

“When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
Oh, how he loves us.” -(song by David Crowder Band)

Sunday, September 5, 2010

God Rules and Overrules

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD. – Isaiah 55:8

This is difficult to write. Sometimes we set our fears down and decide we are going to follow wherever God leads. We listen, we pray, and we set out in the direction we think he has called us. And sometimes, we get it wrong.

When we first started the adoption process we were open to adopting any child. Our only stipulation was that we wanted to adopt a child that would not have a family otherwise. We narrowed down the options and prayed. You have heard the story- we decided God was calling us to adopt from Ethiopia. We were working with Lifeline (who has been AMAZING) but had to find another agency who had an Ethiopia program. We had concerns about that agency so we searched for another one and found one that seemed to be recommended by several people. It didn’t take long to see that in our experience there were some things that gave us caution about proceeding with them. To say this was frustrating is an understatement. I was frustrated. I was weepy and I hate being weepy. Our home study has been rolling right along and we are ready to move forward with the rest of the paperwork and make progress with our dossier. Brian and I decided to take a few days off and just pray about things and whether we should just keep looking for an agency we felt comfortable with. Finally, Brian came to me and said that maybe this wasn’t about agencies after all and God was really closing the door to Ethiopia. My heart sank. Could he be right?

When you choose a country you begin to research and learn everything about that place and those people. Suddenly there are a few characteristics you know your child will have and you begin to piece together this vague idea of what your child might look like and who they might be. You begin to daydream about this child. You long for this child. And suddenly you are faced with the question, “what if that isn’t God’s plan”? You find you have two choices. Either you can push for what you feel you want or you can stop and wait for God’s direction and be thankful that He knows things that you don’t.

We still believe we should move forward with the adoption. We have an amazing agency that we completely trust and they work all over the world to help orphans. So we thought it was worth taking some time to pray and make sure we aren’t running ahead of God by looking for another road when there is one right under our nose. We are praying. We are saving. I wish I could say I always know where God is leading and I always have clear directions. But I promised honesty and transparency folks. The truth is I get frustrated and I get confused. I get really impatient. I don't mind waiting on the process as much as I do knowing they are waiting on us to make a decision. The only thing I can say for sure is that where ever God is leading- it’s good. Road blocks are for our good. So I will thank Him when He opens doors for us, and I will thank Him when He closes the wrong ones. Is the door to Ethiopia closed? I don’t know. There are lots of really good agencies out there and we could find one. Maybe this is all just about His timing. But we aren’t searching for just any child. We are searching for the one He set apart to be a Kessler. My "mother's heart" feels like a piece of it is missing. Yet, He is Holy. So we are waiting with bated breath for Him to reveal what it is He has known all along.

“All eyes are on You, Lord. All eyes are on You.”

Friday, August 13, 2010

"If you can't feed one hundred people, then feed just one." - Mother Theresa

We are almost finished with our home study! I will update soon. All of the kids have had their physicals and now we are just finishing up the last few loose ends. We are also saving for our first “big” payment (not that the others were chump change- but by comparison to this one there were). For now I wanted to share some facts about Ethiopia. I get asked all the time “why Ethiopia”?! Although only God can really explain that, I can show you why we were drawn to a place with such a great need.


Ethiopia is about twice the size of Texas and has approximately 4- 5 million orphans (Minus one, of course). That’s about 12% of the children.
Total population: 77 million

The average income in Ethiopia is $100 a year.
Almost 82% of the population lives on less than $1 a day.

Malnutrition levels are among the highest in the world.

The average life expectancy is only 43 years.

More than half a million of these were orphaned as a result of AIDS.

Less than half of adults can read and write.
There is NO such thing as free education. If you are poor, you will never go to school unless sponsored.
Ethiopian culture dictates that a child that is not your own is treated as a servant. If your parents die, and you are taken in my extended family, they would not treat you as their “own” or pay for school.

Only 18 percent of children reach grade five.

Ethiopia's neonatal mortality rate is one of the highest in the world - 49/1000 births with tetanus infection being the second major cause of infant/neonatal death.

One of the places I want to see in Ethiopia is Korah. Korah is a small village just outside Addis Ababa, the capitol city of Ethiopia. The people there are the poorest of the poor and most live off of what food they can find in the local dump. The village was founded over seventy five years ago by people inflicted with leprosy, seeking treatment in Addis. Three generations later, over 100,000 people live in Korah, most of which either have leprosy, HIV/AIDS, or are widows and orphans.

I wince when he says most people still believe these children are “cursed and unimportant”. As Brian pointed out, their landfills are not like our landfills which are filled with excess of a country that lives so richly. Can you imagine? What if there were no public schools, no source of income, no welfare, no Pell Grant, and no homeless shelters. What then?

I don’t want to give the impression that this is a picture of Ethiopia overall. This is just one village in Ethiopia. While there is great poverty in Ethiopia there is also amazing beauty. Obviously this is a trash dump so it doesn’t show you the beauty of the country.

Ethiopia is rich in history and it’s beautiful. It claims that the Ark of the Covenant, (the box of gold and acacia wood that is believed to have once contained the Ten Commandments) is there somewhere in the Church of St. Mary of Zion in Axum. Ethiopia’s history goes back to biblical times.

There are lots of things I want to see while we are there. I want to learn and take in as much as possible. It is hard to imagine a world so different than my own. Even more odd is that God would choose for these two worlds to collide in such a magnificent way. Please continue to pray for our child and for the adoption process. We appreciate everyone’s love and support more than we could ever express.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Birthdays, Hospitals, and Pictures of Possibility

"You may speak but a word to a child, and in that child there may be slumbering a noble heart which shall stir the Christian Church in years to come." - Charles Spurgeon

Over the weekend I turned 30. This probably doesn’t seem like a big deal but apparently to my friends it was. I thought Brian was taking me out to dinner but he actually brought me to a restaurant where my friends were waiting to throw me a surprise party. I was more than surprised! I was so touched because they are so good to me. I tried not to cry because I had no replacement mascara (since I thought I was just going out to dinner).

There was cake, gifts, and a basket of envelopes and “orphan ransom”. I laid in my bed that night still pondering everything. Not only will this child come home to a family that loves them, but they will come home to an extended family as well.

A friend of mine was struggling to describe what it was like when she came face to face with the outpouring of love from our church family. She said “it’s like God is suddenly standing in front of you and wrapping His arms around you. I can’t describe it.” I told her she didn’t have to. I already knew.

The excitement of the weekend ended abruptly when I discovered Monday Aiden suddenly had a fever of 104.6. It is always scary when they have a fever that high! After an ER visit and some medicine he is feeling better. I am thankful for doctors and hospitals. In Ethiopia the ratio of children to doctors is 1 : 24,000. Staggering.

One other thing going on is that I have been practicing and studying photography. I was hoping at some point I could use this to bring in earnings/donations for the adoption costs so I have been reading and soaking up as much as I can. I have also been practicing what I am learning.

These are of my daughter Kayla.

As I type this I hear the pitter patter of feet so that is all for today!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Something Tangible

Yesterday was an exciting day because we received the first tangible thing that reminds us this is all real. Brian got his passport! I applied for mine a few days after he did so mine won't be in for a few more days. I didn't expect them to come in so quick so we were very excited!!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Never settle

“Sometimes I want to ask God why He allows poverty and suffering in the world but I am afraid He might ask me the same question.” – Anonymous

There is something about witnessing miracles when God does something in the world around you. Even greater still, is when God does something within you that others can’t even see.
Lately I can get up and look in the mirror and not really recognize the person staring back at me. A few short months ago I was in hot pursuit of “comfortable”. Brian had finally decided he was definitely getting out of the military and I can’t tell you the relief this brought. I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to worry about his safety anymore, relieved that I wouldn’t have to raise our children alone for a year at a time, and relieved that none of us would feel the pangs of loneliness the way we had grown so accustomed to. But there was that part of me that was relieved for a very different reason. I didn’t want to move. I felt I had “served my time” and I wanted comfortable for a change. I wanted to settle down. In hindsight, I think I was walking a dangerous line where settling down was becoming the desire of my heart and would have caused me to settle for much less than God had planned.

I don’t even know when the change happened. If it is true that wherever your money is going your heart is sure to follow, then paying for the adoption might explain the growing love for Africa and these people with such deep needs. Or maybe it was when I determined to read biographies of other Christians and fill my head with something better than the television had to offer. I’m not sure. I was reading one of those books called “Ashes to Africa” (which I totally recommend) and Amy Bottomly was describing the difference between her “rated ‘R’ self” and her “rated ‘G’ self”. That was so interesting to me. Yes, no matter how transparent we are we have this side of us that others don’t see; something darker than we would want others to know about. For me that was selfishness. It was a desire that really was about wanting to take a few years to let life be about me and my family. Today things are more in order. My heart’s desire is really God’s presence; seeing Him at work and letting Him work through me. I went from not wanting to travel to Ethiopia to wondering how long I can stay and what I could possibly accomplish while I am there. I don’t think anyone could appreciate this difference but me. Only I knew the depth of my selfishness before, and only I know how my heart feels like it will burst open and hemorrhage if I can’t be among these orphans and reach them in some small way. This is the nature of Christ. We see miraculous things around us in the world all the time. But the ability to change a person’s heart… to change them at the core of their being; there is no other who can accomplish such a thing. My friends, as I type this tonight I pray for you reading this that God will steal your insecurities and your fears. I pray He will set your hearts ablaze with an all consuming fire to know Him and experience Him like never before. Gandhi is often quoted as saying “be the change you want to see in the world” but I’m asking what would happen if you determined to be the change God wants to see in the world? I am praying for revival tonight. Furthermore I am praying that you would determine to let it start inside your very own heart.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Lonely

Today I am working on some adoption reading that is required. It is pretty much a real snooze. I am beginning to think everything I need to know about adoption I learned from my church family (and God, of course).

In Psalm 68:6 the bible tells us that “God sets the lonely in families.” People always ask what made me want to adopt and honestly I think it was God’s idea. But I think the passion comes from knowing what it is like to be the lonely one who was “set in a family”. I love the way that verse is worded because I close my eyes and picture God just picking us up and “setting” us down where we need to be. Of course it never feels that simple. It usually feels like chaos when God is working in your life. But to Him it is that simple. The things that make us worry and fret are of no concern to Him as He lovingly lifts us up and places us in just the right place at the right time for what we need. I know what it is like to be that kind of lonely and for that I am very grateful. The more I understand about adoption, the more I understand about God. I can clearly remember when I first came to my current church. I had been a Christian for a few years but I still felt a little uncomfortable deep down. I had a very hard time accepting that a church “family” could really be like family. I had a hard time believing that I would be accepted once they knew me well enough to discover all my flaws. I was certain one day they would realize I didn’t fit in and didn’t really belong. But that isn’t what happened. I found that they accepted and loved me through the good times and the bad and there was a place for me there to love and invest in others, too. I don’t know if you will ever be lucky enough to come to my church but I hope you find a church that knows how to love like Jesus. Yes, God does set the lonely in families. I should know. Even though it feels so far away, we know each day brings us closer to the day God “sets” our child in our family. Hold on sweet child, we are coming.

I haven’t been around the past few days because we received an unexpected blessing when a friend invited us to stay in Florida at the beach for a couple of days. We didn’t think we would be able to go to the beach this year because we were saving for the adoption, but God just seems to know what you need when you need it. We were definitely in need of a break. Now it is back to the grind!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Pondering Ethiopia

A lot of people have asked exactly where we are in the process.

So far the things we have done:
•Provide initial application for review.
•Receive preliminary approval into the program.
•Begin the home study with an agency.

We have completed our first home study visit which was a tour of our house and an interview with both of us about our marriage. It took about three hours I think. We still have two more visits to do for our homestudy. Part of the home study is getting a lot of documents together (birth certificates, marriage licenses, driver's licenses, etc), 8 hours of online training and reading a book that is required.
Ok, then here is the good stuff:
•Make application for USCIS approval.
•Meet with agency for Dossier compilation (this is more paperwork!)
•Send Complete Dossier for authentication and translation.
•Attend a parent workshop.
•Start our immunizations. (not so excited about this!)
•Receive Referral for our child! (I'm told this is anywhere from 2-9 months)
•Go to court in Ethiopia and return home to wait for next appointment(2-6 months post referral)
•Pick up our Child! (Normally, 6-8 weeks post court approval)
•Ususal length of stay is 5-7 days in Ethiopia.

So that is the plan! We need to get our home study completed before we can start applying for grants. We can’t have our second home study visit until we get our fingerprint packets in for a background check. We are still waiting for those packets to come in the mail so we can complete them. Hurry and wait. You get the picture! Our total timeline I have been told could be anywhere from 9 months to 18 months from beginning to bringing our child home. We are expecting our child to be somewhere around the toddler size and we don’t know whether we are expecting a boy or a girl. Really the only thing we know for sure is that before the beginning of time God set this child apart to be a Kessler!

I have been reading a lot about Ethiopia and work that is being done there. It is amazing to me how this whole new world has opened up that I sort of knew existed but somehow ignored. I asked Brian if we could just think about the possibility of me staying in Ethiopia a tad bit longer (since we have to pay to fly there anyway) and seeing if I could work with one of these groups like World Vision that are already there. His response was “I have to take a midterm- don’t cloud my mind with craziness”! Hmmm … I will take that to mean “we can pray about it”. :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

I'm no Esther

If you have ever read the story of Esther you know that the Jews were going to be killed if Esther (the queen) didn't go to the king and try to stop it. She was afraid of being killed herself since she wasn't allowed to approach the king unless he called for her. But Mordecai, the uncle who had raised her said "If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14). That last line has been playing on my mind a lot lately. Esther did end up going to the king and because of that the Jews were saved. I am not the kind of heroine Esther was. In fact, I would describe myself as pretty average. But I do realize that by Ethiopian standards I live in a palace. I have luxuries I take for granted. In fact, compared to most of the world I live like a queen. It leaves me to wonder why I have so much when others have so little. Do I deserve more? Well, you may not know me but let me assure you the answer to that is no. I can’t give a good reason for why I was born in the U.S. and not some remote village in Africa or some country where the people are so oppressed they can’t even worship God without fear of being beaten or even killed. I have been thinking lately, as we pursue the adoption of an orphan whose name I don’t know and whose face I have never seen, maybe God has placed me here in these circumstances for “such a time as this”.

So, why a blog?

I am new to this whole blogging thing. I actually said I would never blog because I wasn't sure I liked the feeling of putting myself out there like that. I wasn't sure if I had anything to say that someone would want to hear, and I am keenly aware that my spelling skills are less than stellar. So, what changed my mind? Brian actually convinced me to start early. He reasoned that if our baby hasn't been born yet we would have the chance to look back and see what we were doing on the day he or she was born. I think that is sweet, but I had other reasons too. I have read statistics that around 34% of Christians consider adopting and only 1% actually do. What is up with that? I suspect there are probably a lot of reasons. I think we Christians are called to do a lot of things we never do.

My hope is that others will follow our journey and realize that adoption is not as impossible as you think it is. Not everyone should adopt. But maybe there is something in your life that God has called you to do and like me, you keep telling Him “there has GOT to be someone more qualified for that!” Maybe you point to a pastor or that couple you really respect and think “now THEY could make a difference somehow”. There are probably a lot of blogs out there where people try to convince you they are really spectacular. This isn't one of those blogs. My hope is that you will realize we are everyday, average people. We didn't have thousands of dollars sitting in savings when we started this process to adopt. We didn’t have any misconceptions that we are the perfect parents. We just had a tugging in our heart that God was calling us to do something and we decided to say “yes”. This is our adoption journey and you are invited to come along for the ride!