Tuesday, September 28, 2010

It's been a crazy week in the Kellerstrass household! I feel like we are running one way or another. Keeps life exciting I guess :) Through all the running to the hospital to see my mom, taking kids to school, or Owen to his first week of AWANA, God has been showing me over and over that through it all He is with me. His goodness never fails to amaze me. Not a lot has happened with the adoption but a few MAJOR things happened this week that once again reaffirmed that we are headed in the right direction. Besides all the encouragement and people wanting to hear about our mission, we received physical evidence that God will continue to open doors! The next step in this process is to begin paperwork and home studies and the feared dossier. But before that we have to send in our adoption agreement. We began this journey telling God that we are His tools to use anyway He wishes, but if this is the route He wanted us on then He would have to supply because we simply don't have it. We had the extra money in our check account for the application, so we stepped out. This week Nick will be paid for some work he did, which turns out to the half the needed cost for the next step. We were really excited about this and talking about how we would earn the second half. We got on our knees and asked God to provide an opportunity to earn a little extra money or to provide it in another way if this continues to be what He wants for us. The next day we had a check in the mail from a close friend exactly for the other half we needed! This friend didn't even know what we needed but God just laid it on his/her heart. What an awesome testimony!!! We have the money before its even needed. What a confirmation to our family! And after that? We got the call that our application was accepted and they were sending us the paperwork. I just cry when I think about this...really its a true God story!

While I'm Waiting by John Waller

While I'm Waiting by John Waller (Click on Title and the song will play)

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on you Lord, and I am hopeful
I'm waiting on you Lord, though it is painful,
but patiently I will wait.

I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting, I will serve you
While I'm waiting, I will worship
While I'm waiting, I will not fade
I'll be running the race, even while I wait

I'm waiting, I'm waiting on you Lord, and I am peaceful
I'm waiting on you Lord, though its not easy
but faithfully, I will wait.

I will move ahead bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience

While I'm waiting, I will serve you
While I'm waiting, I will worship
While I'm waiting, I will not fade
I'll be running the race, even while I wait

I will move ahead bold and confident
I'll be taking every step in obedience

I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting

Monday, September 20, 2010

So why the blog...

Why the blog? I'm not a very private person. My life is pretty much an open book, my feelings and opinions line the pages. I love blogs because I feel I get to know people for who they really are, not who I perceive them to be. I fall in love with people that I probably would never really get to know through what they reveal in their writings. I find myself praying for people through trials and rejoicing during celebrations, and had it not been for their journaling, I may have never lifted them up to God.

I will try not to be too personal but be real. There may only be a few reading this, but if even one person is praying over us, we will feel it! When my mom was extremely sick last summer, we did a CaringBridge page and I remember over and over the number of people telling me they were praying. People I barely knew, but it encouraged me every day and caused my faith to grow stronger. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, sharing the load of this life!

It's been a week since the initial decision to adopt took hold of us. We were so excited! It was excrutiating to hold it in for 3 days to tell our families (we did "slip" to a few people). We were going to wait a few more days to make it public, but I just couldn't wait! :) We were just so filled with joy and love for this new child who would be joining our family.

Then the fear and doubt settled in. I'd been told adoption was an emotional roller coaster, but seriously, it had only been a week. I thought I could hold it together a little longer than that. Nick and I were so confident that after praying for a year and very intensely for the last three months, that this was the answer He had for us. So why did little thoughts like, "Does this really make sense right now?" or "Do you really think God is moving you in this direction?" I could literally hear the words of doubt run through my mind. And then I began to fear.

Amidst the fear, the Lord laid James 1:2-8 on my heart, and it put into perspective our last year leading up to this point. "Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does."


Note to self: This is what God wants us to do. Never doubt again.

*In adoption news, we are in one of many waiting periods. We have decided to adopt a little girl (at the request of both Owen and Amra) who is between the age of 1 and 2 years. We won't get a referral for about 6-7 months, but we are already praying hard over their sweet, new little baby sister.

A cute little side note, when we broke the news to the kids last week, Owen said, "Finally! I've been waiting all these years!" I guess that's what happens when you pray about adoption for six years!

Please be praying for:
*Our little girl who may or may not already be born. Pray for good health and safety.
*Our paperwork and home studies can be done quickly, and we can finance every piece as it comes along.
*Our friends Greg and Dawn who are also going through the adoption process and currently waiting for the referral of their little boy!
*Our friends Jenny and Phil, who just received the referral of their little girl in China. She was born prematurely and is tiny, but strong and healthy!

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. God knows that I need all the cheerleaders I can get :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It happened to us on the same day at the same time but in totally different places. The overwhelming feeling that "now was the time" entered our minds. The thought entered my mind completely unprovoked while I checked my e-mail, but nevertheless clear, so I texted Nick. "Do you think we will actually ever adopt?" The response shocked me, "In the next year or two."

It's not like we'd never talked about it. As weird as this may sound, Nick asked if I'd marry him if he couldn't have children. It was a little off the wall since we weren't even engaged or talking marriage, but I told him God could bless us like Abraham and Sarah, and if not then we could adopt. I'd wanted to adopt since I was a child. When I was around 14, I told my parents when I grew up I would have 14 children, 6 of my own and 8 adopted. We'd all live in a barn converted into a large house.

Nick and I always knew we'd adopt. The first time we considered it, we had been trying to get pregnant for about seven months. We began to wonder if God had other plans for our family. After researching and praying for open and closed doors, I got pregnant with our first blessing Owen.

Door #1...closed.

Next came our second blessing, Amra. We were content, but in the fall of 2007 we felt the stir of our hearts for the second time. We met with a case worker, got fingerprinted, did all the initial paperwork. We felt a little overwhelmed by the hours of class time we would have to attend while having two small children. Again we asked God for a child and open/closed doors. A month later, the test came back positive, and we were blessed again for a third time with Wrigley.

Door #2...closed.

After Wrigley's birth and medical concerns, the doctors decided that I should not have any more children. And we thought that was it. God was determining for us, that this was all He wanted us to have. We accepted this and knew His way was best.

A year ago, God began a work of transformation in our lives. We'd spent most of our marriage living for ourselves. We were consumed by what we wanted when we wanted it and not at all concerned about glorifying God with our lives. Through a series of events (my mom's illness, Nick's changing jobs, Amra's surgery, etc.) we were forced to trust God with a faith we'd never encountered before. This extreme need for God showed us His holiness and our vast array of imperfections. We began a year of transforming to mirror our lives after Him.

We asked God to show us where our lives needed work. And God, in His humor, took that as an invitation. He has been uncovering every layer of grime in our hearts. Critical hearts, gossip, selfishness, laziness, greed, indulgence, etc. It was and is still not a pretty picture, but His grace has covered all of this, and we in our humbled states decided to hand our lives back over to Him to use in any way He chooses.

This past summer God decided to hand us the gauntlet. He put us through the fire, but not once were we burned. We tightly clung to God because we knew He was our only way through. He loves us enough that He went right through it with us.

God showed us time and time again through scriptures, sermons, and even blogs that He has called us to a radical life for Him. We thought we might be called to ministry, but we realized that our ministry was right here in our own streets. People we love are dying without a relationship with Jesus Christ and our fear of their ridicule kept them from this knowledge. So we began ministering to our "neighbors" no matter who they are or where they came from.

Nick took a new job last year that came with a pay cut, and I was not working this summer, and we had also committed to cut out all credit in our lives. But we never went hungry, we never went without a home, and we could get to and from anywhere we wanted. But it was a test of faith. And God was there through it all. It was the most painful thing I've ever gone through, but my relationship with God grew by miles in those three month this summer.

So when the stirring in our hearts said now was the time, and the adoption agency called the next day and said our baby would be waiting for us in 11 months, we knew we had to step out boldly and in obedience.

Our mission in our lives and the life verse we've chosen for this journey is James 1:27. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."

We hope you will join us on our journey to our fourth blessing. We know it will be challenging and financially we will never need God to show up more than now, but we step out with bold confidence that He, again, will provide every penny. There are two ways that you can join us on our journey:

1. Prayer - First and most importantly is through prayer. I'm a prayer warrior, and I pray through and over any and everything. Prayer not only draws us closer to God but allows Him to show us His power. Please pray specifically for our family, our finances, and also for Baby K who is in Ethiopia awaiting the arrival of her parents to take her home.

2. Financial Support - Second, if you'd like to help financially, 100% of the donations will go completely towards all adoption fees and any money that exceeds our need will be donated to our friends Steve and Danae Lehman at Gobena Coffee (gobena.org), whose sale of fair trade coffee goes to feed, shelter, and educate orphans in Ethiopia...check them out!!! We will also be donating to Lifesong for Orphans, which is an adoption grant organization, which helps families fund their adoption fees as well.

We are so excited for what God is doing in our lives and cannot wait to meet, cuddle, and share the love of Jesus with our new addition! We'd love for you to join us and hear from all our friends and family along this journey.

Called to His Work,
Nick, Erin, Owen, Amra, Wrigley, and Baby K :)