Facing the giants (not just a movie)

Ryan and I leave for Africa on a missions trip to love on orphans in only 2 weeks.

14 days until we have the opportunity to


in Uganda and Ethiopia.

We recently received permission from Visiting Orphans, our mission trip sending organization, and America World, our adoption agency, to visit with B while we are in Ethiopia. It was cause for great celebration in our house! The kids are working on the letters they want to send with us and choosing the photos they would like us to share with B.

In our home church we are currently working our way through “The Story.” It’s a book that uses the NIV Bible–the stories, poems, and teachings–and reads like a novel. Sunday we looked at the experiences of Joshua as he led the Israelites through multiple battles. In each situation, God’s people overcame the giant they were opposing.

Our family is currently facing 2 giants.

The first is MOWCYA. We are still awaiting an appointment with the Ministry of Women, Children, and Youth Affairs. We wrote in a previous post about the power MOWCYA has to allow or not allow B to be adopted into our family. Our appointment was originally scheduled and cancelled two months ago. We continue to feel incomplete without B in our home. This opportunity to visit him will be like balm to our souls. What a joy it will be to see him, to hug him, to hear his voice. 

We ask that you join us in praying that MOWCYA will schedule the appointment with our adoption agency, and that the meeting will take place before we land in Ethiopia. If the meeting takes place before we arrive in Ethiopia and they agree to pronounce B adoptable, we will be able to discuss the adoption and our plans with B. If the meeting has not taken place, we will still be able to see B but won’t be able to talk about our hopes to bring him home.

Our second giant is in regards to our mission trip. And yes, we consider this a mini-giant in comparison to our adoption giant, but it is a giant none-the-less.

We are two weeks away from leaving for Uganda and Ethiopia but we are not fully funded financially. Through our own contributions and fundraising we have paid just over 80% of our total. As of today, Ryan and I still owe a total of $968.86. We humbly ask that you would pray for our upcoming trip and if you feel led–support us with a financial gift.

We’ve already overcome 1 giant this morning.

Writing this post.

It is difficult for us to ask for financial help, as we are still so grateful for the support we received three years ago bringing our girls home.

The other difficult part is B’s possible adoption just around the corner. With that will come 10s of thousands of dollars in fees. We have already paid a little over $10,000 to get to the point we are now, and much of that came from purchased necklaces, scarves, rulers, raffle tickets, or envelopes of cash. And yet the upcoming numbers are still overwhelming–a giant indeed for our family of 6.

We transparently admit to you that we have spent the past 24 hours praying about whether Ryan should stay home and put his finances toward myself and a few others on the team who are still lacking in funds. We discussed putting the rest on a credit card and not sharing the need. And no that decision was not taken lightly by our “Dave Ramsey family.”

But we have instead decided to post our struggle.

The truth is that we can’t do this on our own, and I’m not sure that anyone benefits from us acting like we can.

Your prayers have helped us put one foot in front of the other every day that we have been in wait. We believe that those prayers will bring B home and allow us to visit him in two weeks.

You likely woke up this morning with an impending run-in with a giant. Rest assured that God is bigger. And in His timing and in His way, He will overcome.

We have two beautiful daughters who remind us of that truth every day.

Now on to my fourth giant of the morning–hitting the publish button.

into the unknown

Our minister at MPCC used an illustration yesterday that really struck a chord in me.  Mark shared some facts about the African impala. 

The impala has the amazing ability to jump great heights and distances (up to 10 feet high and 30 feet distance from a standing position).  With this ability of vertical and horizontal jumping, the impala survives and thrives in the carnivore-infested savannas of Africa.  But, if you were to see an African impala in a zoo, it would be confined by a simple three-foot tall fence.  You see, the impala will not jump unless it can see where it is going to land. 

I am often like the African impala, feet firmly planted on the ground, not seeing the need to jump into the unknown.  But, when I met the girls in April of 2009, I knew it was time.  We began the adoption process after I arrived home from Ethiopia.  We jumped, hopeful of where we would land but not really knowing.  There were no promises that we could be matched with the girls.  We did our best guess as to their ages and reqested along those lines.  On July 9th of 2009, we recieved the referral for Fikirte and Konjit.  I felt like we landed from a jump that day.  So, we did it again, and again, and most days I feel like we are still mid-air.  The process has been full of the unknown.  When will the paperwork be complete?  How long can a background check take for a cop and a teacher?  When will our homestudy be approved?  How are we going to pay for this?  Will we have to travel twice?  Will I stay in Ethiopia for a time?  

Well, our paperwork was completed with an approved background check, and our home study has been approved.  We will complete our USCIS fingerprints tomorrow.  The payment is still up in the air, as is travel, but we continue to move forward in faith.  We will not let the fear of an unknown landing dissuade us. 

Hebrews 11:1  “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

When was the last time you jumped into the unknown?  I’d love to hear about it!

financial stewardship testimony

My husband, Ryan, and I were asked to share our Financial Stewardship Testimony with our home congregation of MPCC yesterday. We are beginning our second Capital Stewardship Campaign in April for our Family Life Center. Between now and then, people in different stages of life from our congregation will be sharing their stories. Ryan wrote the testimony; I acted as editor, and we presented the testimony together. I wanted to post it here for those of you who might not know the financial part of our family story.  There is much more we could share, had we been given the time.  Maybe Ryan will break down and teach a workshop with me sometime.

(In case you would like to know who shared what – Ryan’s parts are in conventional text and mine are in italics. Now you can hear our voices in your head…)

In the movie Gladiator, Russell Crowe portrays a General named Maximus who motivated his troops before a battle by exclaiming, “What we do in life, echoes in eternity.”

We were asked to give our testimony on financial stewardship. I am Ryan Mott, this is my wife Deanne, and we have been members here for over 12 years. By no means are we experts on the subject of financial stewardship, but we are willing to share out story. It begins in 1996 with our marriage. Every month, God was getting our left-overs. Often we would look at the checkbook balance on Sunday morning and give a portion of the remaining balance, if there was one. God had blessed my life. He had given me a beautiful wife, a woman who first took me to church, which led me to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Then He blessed me with two healthy children and a job that allowed me to provide for my family. There was no reason to not give more to God.

In 2005 Ryan and I facilitated the program Financial Peace University with our small group. We were finally working a plan to get out of debt and moving towards a debt free future. One of the key parts of this program is a zero-based budget. Every penny of your paycheck is earmarked before you receive it and is spent the way you marked it. This changed our financial situation drastically, in a good way. For the first time in our almost 10 year marriage, we were tithing. We were not only tithing our 10%, we were also sponsoring a child through World Vision and paying towards the original Capital Stewardship Campaign for MPCC’s Family Life Center. In three years we paid off approximately $38,000 and were debt free except for our mortgage.

At this time Deanne shared a heaviness that was on her heart, a call to add to our family through adoption. Adoption is not a cheap process, but I wanted us to do this on our own. We had gotten ourselves out of debt; we could certainly put aside enough money to adopt. Why not take a portion of the tithe every month and put it towards our adoption? This started a trend of tweaking the budget to suit our plans. We paid approximately $4000 towards the adoption…and lost it all. I began to doubt that this was a path we were truly supposed to take. But, once Deanne arrived home from her trip to Ethiopia, God made it clear to both of us that we were called to look after the orphans. We went back to giving our first fruits to God, and handed the concern of the adoption fees to Him. We returned to the zero-based budget and our tithing of 10%. God began showing us again what He could do with our finances. Matthew 19:26 reminds me of this, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Since our rededication to financial stewardship we have already been able to pay adoption fees doubling the amount we had lost in our first adoption attempt.

Our intention is to give above our tithe to the building fund, and we are planning to do this as a family. The kids will be giving a portion of their chore compensation for their own pledge. By no means is this going to be an easy task. God loves a cheerful giver, and this is one of my struggles, to look at the budgeted amount for charitable gifts each month and not think of how I could use it for my own plan or for pleasure. But will a new shotgun, rifle or fishing rod bring glory to God? Our building is bringing glory to God each week. Show up on any Big Wednesday. Over half of the children there do not attend our services on Sunday. Mt. Pulaski Christian Church is bringing the message  of Jesus Christ to those in our community who may not be getting that opportunity elsewhere.

God sacrificed His Son. We will never have to endure such a sacrifice, but we can sacrifice financially. We can all give to the point it hurts. A sacrifice in the checking account, such as forgoing the new furniture or the latest electronic miracle may not be our plan, but we have found it isn’t our money to plan with. The parable of the rich man in Matthew reminds us of the sacrifice Jesus expects, “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.”

“What we do in life, echoes in eternity.”