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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Rich People Problems

Do you have rich people problems? Boy, I do. I have tons of them actually…

Several weeks ago, I was actually reduced to tears by one of my RPP’s. The builders who are completing the small addition on our home kept overloading the circuits and blowing a fuse while my cleaning lady was trying to vacuum the house. Every time the circuit blew, not only did I have to run to the fuse box and flip the breaker so the vacuuming could continue, but the alarm from our security system kept going off. And all the while I was trying to get out some very important, time-sensitive emails and the baby was trying to nap! Can you possibly imagine anything worse?? It was AWFUL, just awful.

We can get a good laugh out of this now but honestly, this isn’t funny. This is pathetic. It’s even more pathetic considering that my husband helps run a ministry to imprisoned children in one of the poorest countries in the world. Our "problems" are all about perspective. And frankly, I could use more of that. We all could.

Lately, I’ve been reading this book:

This one came highly recommended to me by my sister-in-law. It’s about Brother Yun, one of China’s most dedicated, courageous and intensely persecuted house church leaders. Reading this will give you some perspective.

The Chinese Christian church, in 2011, is completely on fire for God. They’re praying big prayers. They’re taking big risks. They’re witnessing great and awesome miracles on a daily basis. The church is exploding with growth.

The American church in 2011… not so much. I know I’m speaking generally here and I don’t speak for everyone but overall, we don’t experience God in this way. Big prayers, big risks and big miracles don’t really describe the American church. And if you ask me, I think it’s because our abundance and our "stuff" often stands between us and God. We trust in our wealth, we’re consumed by our things and we focus our attention on problems that aren't really problems at all.

"Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." Matt 19:24

Recently, I’ve also been seriously humbled by a teenager and his creative little rap. Take a look and tell me if this doesn't hit a little too close to home. Personally, I would have found this to be completely hilarious – if I hadn’t thought the entire thing was based on a typical day in my own home. Yuck.

When I see something like this, it doesn't seem appropriate just to laugh and move on -- because this is reality for most Americans. And I'm really not ok with that. What about you?
Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Redneck Radio

This past weekend, Dan and I made our big radio debut! Just kidding – it wasn’t all that big. But I was completely nervous, just the same.

We were guests on a Christian talk radio show called “Called to Action” out of Raleigh, N.C. The show is hosted by a truly remarkable guy, named Steve Noble. Steve describes his life calling as this… “while some Christians are called to comfort the afflicted, I feel called to afflict those who live in comfort.” Whoa. In other words, Steve feels called to wake up the American church. He feels called to call people to action and to encourage his Christian brothers and sisters to step outside of their comfort zones in order to live and love better.

As you can probably tell, this is my kind of people. Dan and I LOVED hanging with Steve and we felt completely honored to appear as guests on his awesome show.

Against my better judgment, I am including the link to the show below. Try not to pay too much attention to my part. Dan did way better. I was super nervous and I was somewhat shocked (though not completely shocked) to discover that I have a bit of a southern accent.

Oh well. I suppose my big city friends don’t call me a redneck for nothing. Come to think of it, I used to work for Richard Petty, the king of NASCAR, years ago. And believe me, you don’t score a gig like that unless you’re at least a little bit Red. But I digress...

Thanks Ashley for setting up this interview, for arranging the North Carolina Bereaved showing and for organizing the Raleigh Cupcake Kids sale which raised a whopping $1500 for SixtyFeet!! Thanks also to Heidi and Maggie for keeping the Little Crazy Crew and holding down the fort at home. We love you all dearly and we count ourselves blessed to have such awesome friends, both old and new!

To listen to our interview, click http://c2athisweek.org/CMS/podcast and scroll down to the June 24th show, featuring SixtyFeet. But you have to promise not to make fun of me!
Sunday, June 26, 2011

Servant Hearts & Homeschool

Last week we completed our first official week of homeschool!

Yes, in June. I know what you’re thinking – and I’m not nearly as mean as I sound. This year we’re doing a three day school week, taking a month off at Christmas and a two week Spring and Fall break with various other breaks thrown into the mix. So I realized that we'd need to start a little early in order to get through the important stuff by the end of May.

Surprisingly, even the US State Department advocates for homeschool for older adopted children, for at least the first year they're home. The benefits are many: homeschool affords adopted children (or any children for that matter) the ability to move at their own pace and with a program intentionally designed to meet their unique needs. Homeschool provides adopted children with a teacher who knows them in and out, understands their strengths and weaknesses and loves them dearly: Mom. Homeschool also provides extensive opportunities for newly adopted children and their siblings to spend time together and build strong relationships.

Below, I’ve shared the details of my very first day as a homeschool mom. This actually happened last Monday, but I took copious notes in my journal from morning till night – thinking it would be a special, sweet day and I may want to record it for posterity. And I was right.

Here’s what went down…

6am – Wake-up, dress, prep breakfast for Dan to serve to kids, slip out the door for a morning power walk with friends

7:15am – Home from walk. Quiet time on porch, pray, Bible reading

7:45am – Shower, dress, try to make myself look generally presentable because I will probably not get another chance to look in the mirror for the entire day

8:15am – Dan leads family devotions and heads to work

8:45am – I’m in my room panicking and re-thinking what I’m about to go and do. Seriously? I’m going to HOMESCHOOL my kids? What kind of crazy lady takes on such a burden? We’ve been talking and thinking and praying about this for months – but now that the moment is really here, I’m scared to death. I look down and realize that my hands are actually shaking.

8:46am – I offer up a prayer and ask our Lord to make me equal to this enormous task. I cannot do it in my own strength. No way. Repeat. Repeat again.

9:00am – Compose myself. Dust off my knees and emerge from my room. Announce that everyone should grab their stuff and meet me in the kitchen.

9:05am – Pray with the kids for our day and then start the math lesson with the big kids. (Note: in my house, “big kids” is a relative term). Big Kid Math = 1st and 2nd grade math with Madeline and Davis. I’d allotted an hour for Big Kid Math but in reality, it only took about 25 minutes.

9:30am – Put Baby Charlotte down for morning nap and do preschool with Hannah and Joseph

10:05am – Snack time. Call Madeline and Davis inside and announce that their grammar lesson is next.

10:10am – Madeline, Davis, Hannah and Joseph start trying to talk me into postponing the grammar lesson and visiting the new splash pad at Piedmont Park. I tell them “No way. We’re sticking to the schedule, this is a school day. The FIRST school day.”

10:11am – Feeling my resolve weaken. After all, this is summer.

10:15am – The kids are putting on their swimsuits and grabbing towels.

10:30am –

12:30 – Return home, change clothes, eat lunch and get our act back together.

1:00pm – Grammar with the big kids. We’re really doing it this time. Again, I’ve allotted an hour but it takes about 25 minutes.

1:30pm – Literature/History with everyone. At the moment, we’re reading Milly Molly Mandy and a book about Australia. Good stuff.

2:30pm – Put Baby C down for a nap, announce to the other four that it’s time for everyone to take a one-hour rest time. Especially Mommy.

2:35pm – Lay down on my bed to read a book and realize I never ate lunch. Get up to eat an apple or whatever I can find. Answer a few emails, since I’m up and all.

3:00pm – Ditch the idea of laying in bed and reading book and wrap up the school day just how I started it – on my porch, with my Bible and my journal. Spend time praising the Lord for calling me to this life.

Being a homeschool mom of five young children is definitely going to make for some challenging days. It means spending a lot of time preparing, organizing, teaching, correcting, encouraging and so much more. It means almost no “me time” during the day.

But “me time” is not the point of my life. Comfort and ease and making things as simple as possible is not why we're here. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” – Mark 10:45. May the same be true of my life.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Story, II. And Some Thoughts.

NOTE: This is #2 of a two part post. Find part one here.

In my last post, I shared the story of one little family's big step of faith. God presented Laura and Garry with an opportunity and they said yes.

Despite the risks, the potential heart break and the many challenges ahead, this family stepped up in obedience and pursued the adoption of a tiny, premature infant who was likely facing a lifetime of medical issues.

One of their first challenges was this: while Laura and Garry may have been heart-ready to adopt, they weren't paper ready. When Laura and I flew back from Summit on Friday morning, she went straight from the airport to pick up her children. She fed them lunch in the car and spent the afternoon hanging around an Atlanta police station waiting for an expedited fingerprint appointment and background check.

She and Garry raced all over town for hours on end -- attending training sessions, completing paperwork, compiling a family profile book and so forth. This is the type of thing most first-time adoptive families take many months to complete -- Laura and Garry did it in less than two weeks.

The precious Baby Girl they pursued was never handed over to social services. I believe this was largely due to the quick action on Laura and Garry's part. They took immediate and intentional action that demonstrated interest in this baby and it was enough to keep her in the agency's custody.

In the end, Baby Girl did go to a family -- but not Laura and Garry's. Today she's still in the hospital fighting to gain weight and lung function. But when she is released, this baby will go home to a real, forever family.

Walking through this experience with Laura and Garry has opened my eyes afresh to the realities of domestic adoption, to the plight of the birth mother and the American church's response to this immense area of need.

In this particular case, the birth mother of Baby Girl was a young teenager, still a child herself for all practical purposes. I literally know scores and scores of Christians who would have no problem approaching this young woman and exhorting her to "choose life" for her baby.

And yet, how many of those same Christians are prepared to come alongside this young girl, in the same manner as Laura and Garry, when she makes that choice? If a birth mother is willing to step out in faith, are you willing to do the same?

Assuming a pro-life position means you should also be pro-adoption. And by "pro-adoption" I'm not lightly suggesting that you are ok with adoption. I mean that you are willing to adopt.

Today in the US, there's a list a mile long of families hoping to adopt a healthy, white infant. But special needs and/or minority infants? Not so much. Don't even get me started on older children and sibling groups.

The US has an orphan problem. Today there are approximately 116,000 children in the US foster system waiting to be adopted. What's the pro-life church going to do about it?

If you were standing on the pro-life sidelines cheering when each of those children were born, rather than aborted, what are you willing to do about it now? Because those kids need a home.

For more perspective on the US orphan crisis and the church's response, check out the article below. I'll warn you in advance that these words may be highly offensive to you. For that matter, my own words in this post may have been highly offensive to you.

But if your heart is pricked and you're bothered by what you've read here today, I'd encourage you to ask yourself why.

My Take: On Adoption, Christians Should Put Up or Shut-Up.
Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Story

Remember this picture?

That’s Laura and me last month at the Christian Alliance for Orphans annual Summit. I don’t know if anyone remembers but when I came home from Summit last month, I told y’all that I had a story to share. And it’s finally time. Here’s "The Story" from Summit…

Laura and I flew into Kentucky a day early because we were helping host a pre-Summit event for adoptive moms. Of the two of us, I’m the adoptive mom. I was at the pre-Summit event to lead a discussion group, sit on a panel and generally encourage other adoptive and soon-to-be adoptive mothers. Because she’s a sweet friend, Laura came along to help out wherever she was needed.

Laura and her husband, Garry, have talked about adopting for years. They’ve actually done more than talk – they’ve prayed and researched and even inquired about various waiting children. They’ve had every intention of adopting at some point. But for various reasons and circumstances, they’ve never been able to put those plans into action.

So, there we were at the pre-Summit event – Laura and I were knee deep in logistical details, SixtyFeet t-shirts, pre-Summit name tags and sharpie pens – and Laura received an urgent message from one of our friends back home in Atlanta.

The message was this: There’s a baby girl just abandoned at a local hospital. She was born extremely premature – at only 25 weeks and weighing less than 2 pounds. This tiny girl was in the hospital fighting for her life – all alone. She had a tear in her intestines and was leaking fluid, she was breathing on a ventilator, and if she lived, she was likely facing lifelong health issues.

The agency handling her case was desperately seeking an adoptive family. There was very little health history on the birth parents and so far, no one was interested in Baby Girl. She was just too much of a risk for most families to take on. It was imperative that a family come forth immediately or the child would be handed over to social services.

Laura heard this news and reacted in the most incredible way… she wanted to DO SOMETHING. She wanted to take action. Rather than praying that someone else would come forward for this little girl, Laura wanted to come forward herself.

I’m all for praying. I treasure the hearts of the prayer warriors I know and I’ve been the blessed recipient of many, many prayers –especially over the last year. But at some point, we have to accept some responsibility for the prayers we offer up and to consider that we might be God’s vehicle in answering those prayers.

The book of James exhorts us... "do not merely listen to the Word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." At the end of the day, good intentions are just that. They're intentions. And if those intentions are not eventually put into action, they're useless.

So with tears streaming down her face, Laura excused herself from the session we were working in. She stepped out in the hall and called Garry. They talked and prayed and after about 5 short minutes, they’d made a decision.

They knew there were many unknowns and a very long road ahead. There were hoops to jump through and details to figure out. There were many perfectly good reasons for saying no. But Garry and Laura stepped out in faith and obedience and said yes.

This is a long one, so I’ll finish it in a post later this week. This story has a happy ending but probably not the one you’d imagine. When we step out in faith, God never promises that it will be easy or comfortable or that things will turn out the way we think they will.

What He promises is this: help for now and hope for the future. And for those of us who love Jesus, His grace and His promises are enough.

See y'all on Tuesday (or maybe Wednesday) and I'll finish it up.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Calling all Prayer Warriors

My son, Davis, is 5 ½. He may be a little guy but he’s already a prayer warrior. Dan and I often receive comments from other adults about the maturity and the depth of Davis’s prayers. It makes me smile when I think about what the Lord might have in store for him one day.

The first person I can ever remember Davis praying for on a daily, consistent basis is Davis’s friend, Bennett. Davis was only a year and half old at the time of Bennett’s birth – and yet somehow he comprehended the seriousness of the situation and he knew he must pray.

Precious Bennett was born with DiGeorge Syndrome, a deletion of a portion of his 22nd chromosome. This resulted in a complex heart defect, a compromised immune system and other challenging diagnoses. As a tiny newborn, Bennett endured multiple and very serious surgeries. He and his parents spent weeks on end living in the local children's hospital. I can remember days when Bennett’s life literally hung in the balance.

And through it all, Davis prayed. Even when Dan and I forgot, Davis prayed. He prayed for healing and for protection and for mighty miracles to be worked on Bennett’s behalf. He literally prayed without ceasing.

Today, Davis is reaping the fruit of those prayers:

Today, Bennett is one of Davis’s closest friends. He is one of his most worthy and delightful playmates. Every time we are together, which is often, they have a blast.

Bennett’s parents are close friends of mine and Dan’s. Judd is the SixtyFeet board member who is leading the September mission trip. Judd is also the dear friend who flew to Uganda on Christmas night to be with Dan while he awaited completion of our adoption. These are good people.

Over the last year, Bennett has made such progress and has been so healthy that it’s often easy for me to forget that he’s still sick. It’s easy for me to go on my merry way, to go about life and to take my own children’s health for granted – until something causes me to stop and remember.

Sometimes I stop to talk with Valerie in the carpool line and I catch a glimpse of Bennett in the backseat receiving extra calories through his feeding tube. Sometimes Valerie will reach into her pantry to grab a snack for the kids and I’ll catch a glimpse of the mounds of medicine and syringes that she manages on a daily basis. And then I remember.

But today, I couldn’t forget. This afternoon, Davis and I stopped by Bennett’s house to say good-bye. He, Valerie and Judd are leaving tomorrow for Palo Alto,California. And there, on the other side of the country, away from their family, friends, church and entire support system, Bennett will undergo a very complex open heart surgery.

They may be gone for two weeks or they may be gone for a couple of months. Right now, it’s just hard to predict. Valerie and Judd must leave their older son, Henry, behind in Atlanta in the care of his grandparents. Also, Valerie is five months pregnant with their third child.

Friends, I plead with you to join me in praying for this family that is so dear to my heart. Specific prayer requests are below. Thank you for joining with me and so many others to intercede on behalf of the Harper family. "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." -- James 5:16

If you’d like to follow Bennett’s journey on your own, please visit: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/bennettharper

Prayer Requests for Bennett (from the Harper Family):

Pray that Bennett would not be fearful, especially during those times when Judd and Valerie cannot be by his side.

Pray that big brother Henry will be sustained, strengthened and comforted as he stays in Atlanta and will be understandably anxious about his little brother.

Prepare the surgeon, physicians, nurses, anesthesiologists, pharmacists, techs, etc. who will be working with Bennett. And that the hands of the surgeon will be steady and precise.

Pray that all machinery will be free from malfunction or error. Specifically  pray for the heart/lung bypass machine and the ventilators that will support Bennett’s body.
Pray for protection for Bennett’s organs, especially his brain, while on the heart/lung bypass machine.

Please pray for strength for Bennett, Judd and Valerie through the first 48 hours after surgery, which are most critical.
Please pray that our Lord would minimize Bennett’s pain and help his body to heal quickly and without infection.

Most of all, pray that the Lord is glorified through this experience. Pray that Bennett’s life would be a reflection of the Lord’s goodness and mercy. Pray that Valerie and Judd are able to rely on Him for strength and that their faith will not waiver. "I lift my eyes to the mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth."

Thank you, prayer warriors, for standing with us!
"...And by His wounds we are healed." -- Isaiah 53:5
Sunday, June 12, 2011

Wastin' Away

People who grew up with me know that I used to be a serious swimmer. I swam competitively, year-round, from the time I was eight years old right up through my senior year of high school. To this day, I can walk into the YMCA, or any place with an indoor pool, and the smell immediately evokes years and years of memories.

Like it was yesterday, I can remember the stomach butterflies before swimming in a big meet, the joys of winning a blue ribbon, the tears when I bombed out or let my team down in a relay.

One night last week was a huge milestone for me… I attended my first swim meet as a parent. My seven-year-old Madeline swam in her very first league meet.

It was almost a surreal experience… standing on the side of the pool listening to the spectators and her teammates scream “Go Madeline, Go!!” After her event, I watched her high five the coach and I heard those coveted words, “Good swim!!”

In 25 years, none of it has really changed. The feelings, the lingo, the sound of the starting gun, the flags for the back-strokers, the junk food at the snack bar. As Solomon put it: there’s nothing new under the sun.

I came home that night and I couldn’t help but reflect on all this and consider how fleeting life is. In the blink of an eye, I’ve gone from being the swimmer to being the mom cheering on the side of the pool. Before I know it, Madeline will be the mom on the side of the pool.

As the Word tells us, our lives are but a vapor. We’re here one minute and gone the next. Life is short. It’s too short to waste.

Just a few years ago, Dan and I had some pretty un-lofty goals for our life together. Two kids, nice house, private schools, vacation home and retire in style. We planned to live comfortable, safe, prosperous lives. We knew the Lord and we loved the Lord but in so many ways, our lives did not reflect Him. We were not surrendered to His plans for our lives -- we wanted things our way and on our terms. We wanted God's stuff more than we wanted God.

I realize now what a terrible waste that all would have been.

Please know that I say and I write these words with the utmost humility. I do my best to look up, instead of looking around me, and not to judge others. Because I know that every Christian walk will not look the same. I know that Believers are called in different ways and for different purposes.

But, at the same time, I hate to think about anyone wasting their life in the way that Dan and I almost did.

Before I know it, this life will be over. I’ll be standing face-to-face with Jesus and giving account for my time spent on Earth. It’s for that moment I pray I’ve not wasted my time, I’ve not squandered my resources and I’ve not spent the last 80-odd years completely missing the point.

“What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” – James 4:14
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Healing Happens

Nearly seven months ago, I took Hannah and Joseph for their very first appointment at our pediatrician’s office. I wrote about that appointment here. It’s a day I will never forget…

It was the dead of winter and I remember running through the freezing cold parking deck at Piedmont Hospital, dragging behind me two children I barely knew. We made our way into the doctor’s office, signed in and began the unbundling of coats, scarves, hats and gloves. All the while I’m wondering what the people around us could possibly be thinking about the exhausted-looking, short-tempered white lady with the two black children who were speaking some obscure African language.

I felt like every eyeball in the room was on me and, despite the freezing temperatures outside, I can remember sitting in the waiting room and breaking into a sweat.

After what seemed like about 5 hours (but it was probably more like 5 minutes), the nurse called us back for our appointment. Our pediatrician, Dr.Roe, is a member of the SixtyFeet board. He traveled to Uganda twice last year and had already given both Hannah and Joseph full exams, so our appointment was quick. Dr. Roe wrapped it up, hugged the kids good-bye and then broke the bad news to me: “Shelly, you know we have to start catching them up on their vaccinations. Today."

Joseph handled it like any other three-year-old. He huffed and puffed and cried and got over it when I handed him a sucker.

Hannah was a different story. When the nurse brought the needles into the room, Hannah became more hysterical than any child I have ever seen. She belted out the most primal screams I’ve ever heard. She kicked, hit, pinched and tried to bite me. And she became freakishly strong – between two nurses and I, the three of us couldn’t hold her down so Dr. Roe had to come in to restrain her.

It was a pretty awful scene. And it was probably two full days before Hannah really calmed down and recovered from the episode. I don’t know if I’ve ever really recovered.

Fast forward seven months…

Today we had another doctor’s appointment. Hannah and Joseph were both due for another major round of shots. I’ve been prepping them since last week…. “Guys, we’re going to Dr.Roe’s office next Thursday. You’re both going to have shots. It’s going to hurt but just for a minute. And then you get a sucker and we’ll go home.”

Today we walked into the office. I signed us in and grabbed a seat in the waiting room. Hannah and Joseph sat on either side of me and looked quietly at books. And as I type this, I realize that I didn’t even give a second thought to what anyone was thinking about the white lady with the two black children.

The nurse called us back quickly (which was kind of a bummer… I didn’t even have time to update my facebook status and ask people to pray) and the appointment was over before we knew it. And then it was show time. Or shot time. Whatever.

Dr. Roe walked out of the room and the nurse was on the way in with her tray full of shots – polio, tetanus, Hep A, Hep B… Hannah looked me square in the eye and proclaimed “Mommy, I be a big girl this time. I no cry.” And of course I’m thinking “yeah right.” But I gave her a smile and some encouraging words. But on the inside my heart was pounding, my palms were sweating and I’m was wondering when everyone was going to fall apart.

The nurse walks in, smiled at Hannah and asked “would you like to go first?” Hannah said, “yes please,” hopped on the table and looked at me. She repeated her claim from earlier… “I be big girl. I no cry.” And I walked over and held her hands tightly and braced myself for whatever was coming next and… NOTHING.

I almost could not believe me eyes. Hannah’s band-aids were on. Her eyes were dry. It was over. And she was SMILING!!!!!! Joseph went next and, spurred on my Hannah’s heroic performance, he did the exact same thing.

The nurse looked at me and I looked back at her and she said “Wow. That was remarkable. Do you remember what it was like six months ago?” And I started to laugh because how could I forget? But then I started to cry because I was so incredibly proud of them. And so there were tears shed after all -- just not Hannah and Joseph’s.

I know it was easier on them this time for a myriad of reasons – Hannah and Joseph are familiar with our pediatrician’s office and with his staff. They speak and understand the language everyone was using. This time they knew what was going on.

But more than anything, I think this made the difference: we've become a real family. Hannah and Joseph trust me and they know I'd never do anything to hurt them. Their hearts are starting to heal.

In some ways, the last seven months have flown by. And in other ways, time has gone so slowly and some days have been so hard. But slowly, our Lord is bringing healing. He's healing Hannah and Joseph's hearts, minds and bodies from pain and experiences they never should have had.

He's also healing the rest of the Owens crew. He's healing us from the curse of our abundance, our selfishness, our materialism. From the way we used to live and from the things we used to live for. The last seven months have opened our eyes in ways we never could have imagined -- and we will never be the same.

Indeed, He makes all things new.
Sunday, June 5, 2011


One night last week I fell in to bed. I was completely exhausted but I couldn’t seem to turn off my brain. For some reason, Galations 5:22-23 kept running through my mind…the fruits of the spirit.

“For the fruits of the spirit are:









and Self Control

(Sorry, we have no pictures of our family displaying self control. Please enjoy this perfectly normal photo of Davis just being Davis instead.)
I turned this verse over and over in my mind and what really started to bug me was this: these days I feel like my life is markedly unfruity. Lately, I think I would be very hard pressed to claim that my life is really characterized by these fruits.

A more honest claim would be this: Anxiety, Impatience, Frustration, Irritation and Way Too Busy.

So I laid in bed and fretted over my lack of fruitiness. And finally, I just got up and sat on the couch to think and pray and read my Bible.

There I sat, praying “Lord please help me to do better. Please help me to do more. Please show me how I can produce more fruit.”

And our Lord, in His great kindness and mercy, directed me to a verse that I have never before taken note of. He sent me to Hosea 14:8:

“I am a pine tree. Your fruitfulness comes from me.”

And then I sat on the couch, in the dark and cried. Because who am I that the King of the Universe should care enough to speak to me so directly? Who am I that He should be mindful of me?

OF COURSE my fruitfulness comes from Him. I can’t be better. I can’t do more. I can’t produce fruit in my own strength. I need only to stay connected to the Vine. My fruitiness, and everything else, comes from Him alone.

I'm sure you've heard it before but I'll say it again... “Jesus plus nothing equals everything.”
Thursday, June 2, 2011

Summer Shout-Outs

Since it’s summer, I’ve decided to loosen up a bit. I have even given myself permission to write a couple of completely disjointed paragraphs in a single blog post… I know, I am such a wild woman.

First, a shout-out to my Hannah for her fabulous new hair-do.

Yep, I spent the afternoon at the Buckhead Weave Shop. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d say.

Second, a shout-out to all of you who supported our dear friends Ernest & Catherine over the last month, both financially and through prayer. Below are some additional pictures from Dan’s recent trip to Uganda:

That's E & C with Ernest's son and junior pastor, Boaz. They're sitting in front of the new house. Dan walked over with them after church -- just a 3 minute walk.
Mama Catherine, a new family addition and the stuffed kitty Hannah sent over with Dan.
Pastor Ernest -- he's a rockstar.
Third, a shout-out to my friend, Andrea. In blog world, y’all might know Andrea as the mastermind behind the Created for Care Retreat, a founder of Wiphan Ministries, the organizer of the Atlanta African Family Fellowship and the writer of the famous and fantabulous blog, Babe of My Heart. In the real world, she’s one of my dearest and most trusted friends. If Andrea has blessed your life (and chances are, she has) this is your chance to bless her back. Head over to her blog and purchase the super cool t-shirt that will support her upcoming mission trip to Zambia. Also, every shirt purchase will enter you in the drawing for an AMAZING give-away. Don’t miss it.

Fourth, a shout-out to my friend, Heidi. Heidi used to cut my hair years ago, way back when Team Owens was just Dan, me and our Baby Madeline (who is now 7 ½ ). As most women do with their hair stylists, Heidi and I spent many hours talking and sharing our hearts while I sat in her chair at True Salon. From my very first appointment with her, Heidi and I realized that we were both committed Christ followers and that the Lord had broken our hearts for many of the same things.

Heidi has since married and moved outside of Atlanta, but I recently reconnected with her and her new husband, Jason. And guess what – Heidi and Jason are adopting their first child from Uganda! Word is that the Crazy Blog even had a hand in encouraging them to pursue this path. If that’s not a compliment, I don’t know what is.

In August, Heidi and Jason will embark on the trip of a lifetime as they travel to Uganda for an “adoption inquiry” trip where they will visit various orphanages to learn about their needs, serve with various Ugandan ministries and generally immerse themselves in the Ugandan culture. Pop over to Faith Makes Us Bold and sign up now as a follower. I can’t wait to follow every second of their trip!

And last but not least, I want to introduce y’all to a new friend of mine: The Sparrow Fund. Just in case any other readers, like Heidi and Jason, get themselves inspired and are considering adoption, this is something you should check out.

The Sparrow Fund provides grants for medical reviews for adoptive families, which is a service typically not covered by insurance. This fund was started by a few regular ol’ families who have hearts for adoption. Simply put, these folks are committed to seeing less orphans in the world. They provide these grants because they desire that nothing should be an obstacle in the adoption process. And that’s pretty awesome.

Check out their website to learn more.

And that’s all I’ve got. If you’ve got anything fun or exciting that I can share on my next Summer Shout-Out post, please let me know. I want to do a couple of these over the next few months and share the craziness! Happy Summer y'all!