Psalms of Lament {Week 3}

If you’re reading the words on this page, chances are you’ve experienced pain, loss, grief, disappointment, anxiety and confusion in this life. These moments can cause us to ask questions like:

Why me?
How will I survive?
What now?

The Psalmist encountered various trials and the words written in this Old Testament book give a voice to our deepest pain and questioning.

But, here’s the thing. The Psalms were written for worship. So these laments -these intensely vulnerable and honest heart cries – were spoken in an attitude of worship meant to lift high the name of the Sovereign God. Philippians 2:12 tell us to “work out our faith with fear and trembling.” These Psalms are examples of a follower of Christ pressing on in faith, straining towards the goal of Christlikeness, allowing the Lord to complete the good work that He began. And while he is putting words to the doubt in his heart, he does so with reverence and humility.

The finished work of Jesus is the answer to all of our brokenness and when life seems more than we can bear, we’ve got to have theology, an understanding of our God’s character revealed in His word and illustrated through the life of His son, that will hold up under trial. The Psalmist knows who God is but his heart still wrestles to believe in what he cannot see. Just like the Psalmist we can be honest with the Lord when it feels like all is lost.

Listen to this week’s message by Jessica Visser on Psalm 42:

Womens Equipping Fall 2017 Week 3 from The Well Community Church on Vimeo.

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Adoption Update #1

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“How’s the adoption going?  Where are you at in the process?”

“Any news on a baby?”

“How long before you get your baby?”

I’ve heard these questions over and over the past few months and my answer consistently has been:

“We’re waiting.”

“Nope, still waiting.”

“Not sure, we’re still waiting.”

Waiting.  We were waiting for 6 weeks for DMV to mail one form to our agency so they could continue processing our paperwork.  We waited over 3 months for them to process the paperwork we turned in back in May.  Waiting and waiting to get a phone call that said, “we want to schedule your home study!”

Thankfully we got that phone call last week and our home study is scheduled for next Thursday 9/14!  I realized I haven’t shared much about the adoption process, where we’re at, and what’s next here on this blog.  So a little background:

  1.  In April we picked an agency for our adoption: Family Connections Christian Adoptions.
  2. In May we did our preliminary interview and paperwork.
  3. After the preliminary interview, they gave us a gigantic stack of paperwork where you pretty much write about every detail of your life.  I mean EVERY detail.  We also had to get physicals, STD tests, bloodwork (testing our cholesterol and other things!), meet with a therapist, turn in financial information, car insurance, and a million other things.  We turned all of that in the last week of May.
  4. In June, July, and August we waited.  Silence.  Nothing.  Waiting for the agency to process our paperwork.  Waiting to get assigned a social worker to get to our home study.
  5. Finally in September, our individual interviews were scheduled and home study is on the calendar!
  6. After home study, they approve us (should take about a month) and once we’re approved, we turn in our album to show to potential birth moms in hopes of being matched.

We are doing a “Domestic Infant Adoption”.  Different from foster-to-adopt in which parental rights have already been terminated, a domestic infant adoption is getting matched with a birth mom who has chosen life and will be looking for a family to parent her child.  We will, Lord willing, be matched with a mom making this incredibly difficult and courageous decision and walk with her the final weeks/months of her pregnancy until she hands over the baby to us, the forever family.

We learned that with unwanted pregnancies:

50% mothers will choose to parent

48-49% will choose abortion

1% will choose adoption

Only one percent choose adoption.  During our orientation, the director told us “African American males are the least desirable of all children.”

I’ll let that sink it.  That is a real statistic and a direct quote.  Even among Christians, African American males are less likely to be adopted.

Santino and I knew in that moment, that we wanted to carry our pro-life ethic all the way out and adopt an African American male.  We wanted this baby boy to know he is desired and wanted by us!

So friends, we are days away from our home study being complete.  A month or so away from being a approved.  After that, we will begin the search for our baby.  We will have our adoption profile ready to be shown to potential birth moms, in hopes of being matched.  We have no idea how long this will take.  It could be quick, it could take months.

We know we’re excited and eager to meet our baby!  So many have asked how you can help and how you can pray.

  1. Pray for our birth mom.  I think about her daily.  I wonder where she is?  How far along is she?  Is she safe?  Is she scared?  Does she know she’s pregnant yet?  Pray for her. Imagine the weight of having to make a decision like this, being handed a bunch of books of people you don’t know and having to decide which couple should raise your child.  Imagine the fear, imagine the pain, imagine the courage.  Pray for her.
  2. Pray our birth mom would be led to our agency!  And quick 😉
  3. Pray for us.  We are so excited!  We just want to hold our baby.  We can’t really see past much more than that right now.  Pray we have endurance and perseverance.  There is a lot of risk involved in this type of adoption (we could walk with a birth mom for months, give a lot of money, and she could change her mind the day she gives birth and we lose everything).  We are trying to be excited and hopeful, not walk in fear or worry, but be grounded and realistic at the same time.
  4. We are not actively fundraising.  Thankfully going back to Fresno Unified part time has provided for this adoption.  However, we know some of you feel called to give, called to partner with us and help bring our baby home.  So if you feel led to give, you can give 2 places:

City Without Orphans.  This agency helps so many local adoptive families in some way, and they have been an incredible source of encouragement and wisdom for us! Give here: City Without Orphans 

Danisi Adoption Fund.  We created an account at Adopt Together that goes directly to the cost of our adoption.  Again, we aren’t in need, but if you want to give, you can do so here: Danisi Adoption Fund

We have been so grateful to each of you asking, praying, and offering to help during this process.  I have a room full of baby items that some of you have already donated!  It really feels like an entire community is adopting this baby and we are so thankful.  I’ll keep posting updates and more of our story here, so check back soon.  Until then, pray Baby Danisi home!

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Psalms of Wisdom {Week 2}

Psalm 1

1Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lordand on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Are you actively seeking wisdom from God in your everyday life?  Or are you just trying to wing it?  Do you spend more time seeking advice from the world or from God’s Word?  Is your heart submissive to God’s wisdom revealed through His Word, or do you resist the parts of the Bible that you don’t like?  Would you rather just follow your heart?

 

Wisdom not only provides guidance to help us get to where we want to go, but it also makes the journey itself enjoyable!  It is an incredible gift that God gives to people who seek it.

In this message, Molly walks us through Psalm 1 and shows where true wisdom and true happiness is found.  You can watch here:

Womens Equipping Fall 2017 Week 2 from The Well Community Church on Vimeo.

“Happiness is never found in pursuit of itself, it’s a byproduct.  If you seek righteousness, you get both. If you seek happiness, you get neither.” -Tim Keller

Psalms Intro: Psalm 139 {Week 1}

Knowing God and being fully known, that is the goal of our study in Psalms.  This intro message opens the book of Psalms with a little background information and an overview for the book.  We’ll walk through Psalm 139 to know:

The God who is all knowing
The God who is all present
The God who is all creative and all seeing
The God who is all holy
The God who is intimate, merciful, and restorative

We must bring our whole selves to the table–our shame, our guilt, our pain, our hidden sin, our doubt, our fear, our anxiety, our brokenness, and our joy–to know God and be fully known.


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/232762985″>Womens Equipping Fall 2017 Week 1</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

James 5:7-20 {Week 10}

Patience in Suffering

Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. 10 As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. 11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

12 But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your “yes” be yes and your “no” be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.

The Prayer of Faith

13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. 17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.

19 My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, 20 let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

As we wrap up James, we see his final call to us as believers to be:

  1.  Patient in suffering
  2. Prayerful in all circumstances
  3. Persistent with people

 

Watch this week’s video here:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/211532256″>Women's Equipping Week 10 Friday</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

James 4:11-5:6 {Week 9}

11 Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?

Boasting About Tomorrow

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” 16 As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

Warning to the Rich

1 Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the righteous person. He does not resist you. (James 4:11-5:6)

This week we see three different types of people who walk in the way of worldliness: the one who slanders, the one who boasts, and the one who hoards.  Watch this week’s video here:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/209991765″>Women's Equipping Week 9</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

James 3:13-4:10 {Week 8}

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

1 What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 3:13-4:10)

But he gives more grace.  Grace upon grace.  Week after week, James has unpacked for us how we love the wrong things, we don’t have a pure and undefiled religion, we can’t tame our tongues, we don’t care for the vulnerable the way we should, we talk-the-talk but we don’t walk-the-walk.  And then we arrive at James 4:6-10, the pinnacle of the book.  The place where He culminates our need, the ways we fall short, and how to remedy that.

Humble ourselves, resist the devil, draw near to God, repent and be purified.  Watch this week’s video here:


<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/209297413″>Women's Equipping Week 8</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/twcc”>The Well Community Church</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

For a free downloadable print of James 4:6 created by Pen to My Paper,

click here: He Gives More Grace