Thursday, January 23, 2014

Rummage Sale, Saints, and Adoption

Have you ever felt blessed beyond what you deserve?  Have you ever sat at your desk at work and found your eyeballs filled with tears?  Not because of some inspirational, heartwarming video you watched on YouTube or Facebook, but because something so incredible and heartwarming was actually happening to you?  I have.

About a month ago, we put the announcement out to our church that we were going to have an Adoption Fundraiser Rummage Sale and asked people to donate anything they may have lying around the house, so we could raise money for our adoption.  This wasn’t our first go-round with this type of fundraiser, as we did it back in early 2009, before we adopted our sweet little Ethiopian Prince, Jeremiah.  Back then, we had numerous people donate a bunch of stuff and one friend made countless trips to our house with cars-full of great things to sell.  The end result...over $700.  Pretty cool, huh?

Well this time, we had no idea what we were in store for.  First, I had friends contact me within a minute of posting our request on Facebook and within 3 weeks, our community…nay… our church family, had filled our larger-than-most shed at church.  2 days before our sale, I put the request out to my poker buddies and they jumped into action, as well.  It was pretty cool, but the real surprise came when we started laying out everything for the sale in our church sanctuary.

IT WAS FULL!  Granted, our sanctuary isn’t huge, but it was friggin full!  2 X-Boxes, 2 Bean-Bags the size of Montana, vases, lamps, a couch, enough clothes to fill the Grand Canyon (slight exaggeration), TVs, books, kids toys, a bike, sports equipment, etc…  Pretty much everything you could think of and, to top it off, a woman from our church who bakes for a living, made 2 huge chocolate cakes and cookies to sell.  Did I mention my brother from another mother, Jeff, made his famous Ocean Rolls for us to sell?  Again…pretty cool.

So we set up Thursday night for a Friday morning sale.  The late night and short rest quickly turned to morning, so with exhaustion setting in, Becca and I left for church.  After a few last-minute tasks at the church, I kissed my wife and off to work I went. 

Within 25 minutes, people were banging on the church door, asking my wife to get in early.  Headache-ridden and overwhelmed, my wife texted me asking for prayer because she was already at the brink of breaking down.  A few minutes later, I received this text, “Just started crying….pray for your dumb stressed out wife! Ly” (Note:  She was never this overwhelmed before three kids.  Go figure.)  A few minutes later, our resident “Fix-All Lady” Donna showed up, took over, and let Becca regroup.

That’s when it hit me at the office…eyes-welling, knowing how God has surrounded us with incredible people.  Becca continued to send me texts of more people showing up to help, people donating extra money on top of what they were already spending, and how her headache had disappeared.  I may lose my ‘Man Card’ for admitting this, but I just kept welling up throughout the day.

As if generosity hadn’t been heaped on us enough that day, our friend/neighbor Shawna, helped us clean up for about an hour, picked Emmy up for school, and brought us dinner.  Seriously, what is wrong with all these nice people?  I thought our culture is supposed to be full of “Me Monsters” who only care about themselves.  Our friends clearly did not get that memo.

A long story, short…we drove away from the church after the Friday/Saturday sale completely exhausted, but with a little over $2,000 toward our adoption…and we haven’t even sold the 2 X-Boxes yet.

The following day at church, we had the opportunity to share with and thank our church family.  They gave us a mic and we set out to try to put into words what their kindness did for us.  I’m terrible at public speaking and I may or may not have gotten choked up while speaking, which made my attempt even more pathetic.  (I think I actually squealed at one point…pathetic!)  To be honest, I’m still not exactly sure what I said, so here’s my second (less teary, more coherent) attempt to thank everyone.

First off, THANK YOU!  The time and great sellable items are far more than what we could have ever asked for.  When we went to our first adoption seminar, they told us, “If God is calling you to adopt, don’t worry about the money.  He will provide it!”  And He did.  We came in with the same mantra this time around and guess what?  He is providing again and I have no doubt, He will continue to do so.

By no means am I comparing what we are doing to what God has done for us, but I like to explain it this way…  Jesus’ death on the cross, His incredible sacrifice, paid our ransom.  At the moment He breathed his last, we were no longer orphans, but sons and daughters.  Our ransom was, and is, forever paid!

Adoption, at least internationally, is extremely expensive, but Becca and I see it as a ransom we pay to forever (or at least as long as we live) receive our son or daughter.  Through this, many people have told us how incredible we are for “saving” this child.  That’s where the tiny comparison of Christ and us quickly diminishes.  Yes, it is a sacrifice when you spend so much time and money to complete an adoption, but we truly are far more blessed by our new son or daughter, than they will ever be by us.  That is an unquestionable fact. 

When we set out to adopt our eventual son, Jeremiah, we never thought, “Man, its sure going to be great when we save this child.  He better never take us for granted because without us, who knows what would have happened to him!”  Why?  Well, (1) God could have picked anyone to be Jeremiah’s parents, but He chose us to be blessed by this incredible boy.  He chose us to raise this sweet boy and that is an incredible gift!  (2) We wanted another child to love and to love us…not owe us for something God put on our hearts.  (3) The call to adopt is not for the weak at heart.  It’s not some Slam-Dunk, Save the World so we can look good, sort of thing.  It’s hard and it sucks a lot of the time.  When you sit and wait for answers on the well-being of your child a half-a-world away, you realize how much that child means to you…how much you love him.  Any thought you might ever have had about them “owing you” vanishes at that moment.
Basically, we can’t take pride in “saving” our next child because God is the one behind the “saving.”  He’s saving Becca and me from not fulfilling His plan for our lives.  He’s saving Emmy, Jeremiah and Levi from being short a sibling.  He’s saving us from not reaping the rewards of being obedient.  Really…He’s saving our family from being incomplete. 

So when I tell our family and friends, “Thank you for helping pay the ransom for our next child,” please know I say that, giving full credit to the “Hero” in this story…Jesus Christ.  Becca and I are by no means “Saviors.”  We are simply saying yes to what God is calling us to do (Something I’m not very good at, mind you.)  The paid “ransom” and “saving” is and will continue to be handled by my Jesus…and that suits me just fine.

To our Water Church family and friends, thank you.  Thank you for giving your time and possessions to help pay that “ransom.”  But mostly, thank you for allowing me to encounter one of those feel-good, heartwarming moments that can make my eyeballs fill with tears.  Not on YouTube or Facebook or Vimeo or anywhere else on the internet…  But smack-dab, face-to-face, in the flesh, right in front of me.  Your selflessness this past month and especially this past weekend, has showed me how well surrounded our family is with Saints and God’s all-encompassing goodness.