Thursday, January 27, 2011

God Winks

     It's been quite a week -- one that keeps my head swirling and heart pounding.  From the get-go, I needed to stay on top of it before it got on top of me.  So last Saturday I called a family meeting to get a gameplan.  With pencil and paper in hand, I blocked off chunks of time to accomplish the mission ahead -- the typical stuff that fills up a family week -- school projects, piano recitals, hosting multiple ministry events, gymnastics classes, and adoption stuff just to name a little.

     Thankfully we kept on track, but I was reminded that it's not the big ticket items that make life so sweet.  While great joy is found in scheduled plans, life is really made up of all the God winks in between.  I've been on a journey to find God in the midst of the daily good and bad - when things go as planned and when they go amuck - when I'm looking eyes wide open and even when I'm burying my face in the pillow.  Because that's how God's grace is.  It's found in the ordinary, and it opens up the joy windows no matter what swirls around us. 

     I've been making a list of God's gifts, and the act of recording them has awakened me to what living really is about.  I was challenged by one of my favorite bloggers, Ann Voskamp, to begin making a list of everyday gifts.  You can read more about this beautiful project HERE, and I invite you to join me in discovering God's personal touch in every single moment of your life.   

     In celebration of Ann's newest book, One Thousand Gifts, she created this wonderful montage of living fully right where you are.  If you have just 5 minutes, be inspired by spending them here:

And my list of 1,000 Gifts continues:

49.  Words on pages that write on my heart

50.  Pizza & movie nights cozied up together

51.  Clearance sales to clothe growing bodies

52.  Salty tears

53.  Blue-eyed babes lined up for TB tests to prove their readiness to grow our family

54.  Anticipation of another precious nephew

55.  Spin bikes that pedal away tension from long days

56.  Connecting through texting

57.  Dreams of God-sized ideas

58.  Heat in our home

59.  Fire in our hearts

60.  Child-whispered prayers

61.  Muddy shoes

62.  Grandparents love

63.  Burdens that keep me running to Him

64.  A clean van

65.  Lists to keep me on track

66.  Joy in His faithfulness

Friday, January 21, 2011

A Labor of Love -- Widow Project Update

     We are so thankful for the generous support of our “Widow and Orphan” Project which took place on Saturday, January 15th. A 20-member team donated 4-plus hours to a local widow for this “Extreme Home Makeover.” Beforehand, our team asked family and friends to sponsor their efforts, with all donations going toward the Forrester family adoption fund. 

     We accomplished so much for this widow and her family – free of charge! We were able to install and repair her bathroom fixtures, front porch handrails, and a ceiling fan; landscape her front yard with new mulch; paint her hallway and bathroom; hang blinds; deep-clean her house; haul away trash; and cook a hot meal for her family. 

     To all who donated to this cause, we are deeply appreciative. We are especially grateful to a local company, United Restoration, for donating all of our many supplies. Our excitement is growing as we inch closer to providing a “forever family” to 1 or 2 Ethiopian children.  

     We’re about 25% toward the total cost of these international adoptions. If you would like to join us in this mission, you can give a secure, online gift by clicking on the tab at the top right.  

With grateful hearts,  

Brian and Jessica

Chad & Mike - our construction pros!
Kendal (above) and Shanda (below) -- painting professionals!

Meg tackling the linen closet
Ben & Lia (above) working on the outside
 and Jacob and Tess (below) working on the inside! 

Paige making a hot meal to leave for this sweet family!
Lady L (our sweet new friend we served) and Jess

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Widow Project

We’re really excited about today's project, one that God dropped right into our hearts.  I’ve quoted James 1:27 in other posts, but it’s usually in emphasis of the word “orphan” –  “Religion that God the Father accepts as pure and without fault is this:  caring for orphans or widows who need help."  Well, what about the widow?  Where can God’s heart for the widow fit into our adoption plans? 

As we’ve tried to creatively figure out our adoption funding, we came across an innovative fundraising idea.  Here’s the story: through a grief ministry, we met a widow I’ll call “Lady L.”  She has two children – twins – who will be 9 years old on Valentine’s day.  Since her husband’s death last spring, her home projects have piled up.

So, we gathered an incredible group of family and friends for a mini-version of “Extreme Makeover Home Edition.”  This morning, we’re loading up vans with paintbrushes, ladders, lumber, cleaning supplies, mulch, and so much more. We'll take care of Lady L’s “honey-do” list . . . all free of charge with no-strings attached!  When we told her our plans to give a free day of labor, she was absolutely floored.  We knew God led us to the right family when Lady L said she had just prayed for someone to help her … and soon after, we called.

What does all this have to do with our adoption funds?  This is the other part that blows me away.  Not only are the amazing volunteers on our team joining us in a physical labor of love this week-end, but they mailed hundreds of letters asking for sponsorships . . . sponsorships which will go 100% towards our Ethiopian adoption expenses.  In essence, they are caring for the widow in service and caring for the orphan with financial sponsorships!

Every day, our kids run to the mailbox, looking for white envelopes arriving with this sponsorship money.  Imagine 4 little faces and 1 grateful mama doing the “happy dance” at the mailbox around 1PM everyday!  With every gift, I love hearing 4-year old Sam say, “God brought us more “doption” money.”  Through the gifts of both friends and strangers, we see God’s heart in action.  We are deeply humbled and thankful. 

In case you want to contribute towards this “Widow/Orphan” Project, it’s pretty simple.  You can click on the DONATE tab at the top of this blog, and make a tax-deductible donation via Paypal.  Or you can just send an email to, and I can give you more traditional payment information.  Above all, we covet your prayers that we will be a huge blessing to “Lady L” and this paves the way to bring “Baby Forrester” home. 

With love and thanks,


P.S.  If you have friends or family who may want to get involved with a sponsorship gift, feel free to share this post on Facebook or Twitter by clicking on the “Share” tab. 

Sunday, January 9, 2011

FAQ #3: Why does international adoption cost so much?

What a week of stepping back into the routine of school, new goals, and life’s daily adventures … but I just realized I’m behind on a blog post.  So here I am, finally sharing about the most recent “God confirmations” in the middle of our adoption journey. 

When we accepted the adoption call, a hefty price tag hung in our way.  I kept hearing about how expensive international adoptions were, and quite frankly, the idea of mixing money with children made me queasy. Already, there’s enough unimaginable atrocities happening to children in the name of the almighty dollar.  But as I’ve trudged through this adoption process, I’ve come to peace with the many different components which make these dollar numbers realistic and even necessary. 

Why do international adoptions cost so much? It varies some depending on the agency and country, but here’s where the money goes for our Ethiopia Program: 

Agency Application - $300

Immigration Application - $800

U.S. Home Study - $1,850

Dossier Fee - $3,000

Ethiopia Fee - $11,900

Travel/Lodging - $7,000 (This is approximate. . .  Ethiopia requires two trips, and then we’ll also have an additional child ticket on the final return – yea!!)

Post-Adoption Reports - $1,200 

The most expensive part, Ethiopia’s Program Fee, actually covers more than the legal fees for the country.  A portion of this money is used to provide supplies, food, medicine, and lodging for the kids who are still there and who may never have a forever family to come home to.  I love this!  So I’ve come to grips with the cost. Can I really put a price tag on a child’s life and determine in my finite mind that it’s not something I can afford? I fully believe our lives are best spent in partnership with God in redemptive mission, and adoption is such a beautiful picture of how God brings us into His family. 

Let me add one more honest thought: I really, really didn’t want to ask anyone for a single red cent towards this journey.  I was proud – and just plain fearful of criticism and misunderstanding.  After all, did I do fundraisers to pay hospital bills for the births of my other children?

But adoption IS different in some ways.  James 1:27 says, “This is pure and undefiled religion to care for the orphan and the widow.  Adoption is a Great Commission activity.  For some of us, this may mean bringing a child into our home, or building wells for clean water, or providing education and medical supplies to a rural village.  These perpetual, global challenges require a funding born out of a Gospel-centered community instead of a single pocketbook. 

So I’m learning to get my self-sufficient spirit out of the way.  I am awestruck by the generous donations of friends, family, and even strangers.  I am so grateful for the love being poured out, and I want to commit my life to likewise pouring back into others. 

“God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible.  What a pity when we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.”  -- A.W. Tozer