Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Our Adoption: Another Step

Jasper Speaks:

Sorry for the time lapse in updates. There just hasn't been much to update about lately. We are just moving along in the process. However, the latest news is that we have completed the first phase of our home study with our 3 hour interview being completed on Monday. Next, is the home inspection. That will be on this coming Monday.

We will be a flurry of cleaners as we get things looking their best for this phase of the home study. We have done this before, so we know what to expect which is nice. the boy will get an interview on that day too. These are very critical steps in the journey and we are glad to get them finished!

Also, God continues to amaze us with his provision for our needs financially. We have some of the greatest friends and family. It is humbling to see how many people love and believe in us. We could never be able to do this on our own.

God is good! We pray that this will all set things in motion for our new addition to our family to come home to us soon!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Where Things Are

Jasper Speaks:

We are still in the midst of paperwork gathering for our home study. I realize that there is so much more paperwork still to come. It seems that I have been thrust into so many places where Uganda has been the topic. Just last Thursday I was in a Bible Study at Washington University with graduate students and TWO of them had been missionaries in Uganda.

I also came across this video on the internet about a family giving up everything for their adopted child in Uganda:

The Via Family

I pray that God is providing the people our child needs to help them every day.

Please continue to pray. God is going ahead of us in all of this.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Taking The Next Step

Jasper Speaks:
So, on Monday we will submit the initial paperwork for our home study with Children's Hope. It is about a $2000 cost and thanks to generous people, God has provided that again. It is amazing to see Him open doors for this adoption.

How can you help us?

Pray. Seriously. The home study is next and although we have been through this on a domestic level, I am not sure how it will be different for an international adoption. I have head some hesitancy because of my weight but my doctor has written a note saying I am in good health and my latest blood work just came back and once again, it has been confirmed that I am a VERY healthy fat guy. Great cholesterol, no diabetes, and perfect triglycerides. So, I am praying that the god health will win out in the end.

Give. The link to the new tax exempt giving page is in the sidebar of this page at the very top. Also, don't forget we are going to have the soap open house at our house. Save the Date! December 9th! 6-8pm I am having an open house for you to buy the handmade soaps for our adoption fund! Just in time for Christmas! If you want to look at the soaps and prices before or order online here is that link:
https://www.etsy.com/shop/catiebeth?ref=l2-shop-header-avatar
And there will be other ways to help coming soon.

Support. Just let us know that you are thinking about us and praying for us. You can also give our information to people you know who might want to help. It is amazing to have so many friends surround us at this time.

God has a child who is already living in our heart and we can't wait to meet him or her. Thank you for your love!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thanks

Jasper Speaks:




I sometimes wonder if I am really a thankful person. Sure, I realize that nothing I have would be mine without God granting things and people to me, still I don't know that I actually thank Him for these gifts enough. November is the time of year that we begin to let thanksgiving settle into our thoughts. Last year I kept a 30 days of thanksgiving list where I publically thanked God for something He has blessed me with each day of November. It had a two-fold effect on me. One, it did make me think of so many things of which I need to be thankful. Two, it reminded me that sometimes I take things for granted.

I look at all I have. I have a wonderful, supportive, beautiful wife. I have an energetic, kind-hearted, loving son. I have siblings who care for me. I have bright nieces and nephews who make me proud to be an uncle. I have a great ministry in which God allows me to serve. I have friends who have helped me walk both happy and dark paths. I am a blessed man.

As I look at all that has been given to me, I cannot help but realize my need to thank for God for the gift He has given me of which I am most undeserving. Christ has given me eternal life. I am undeserving of this. I was a sinner who wanted my own will and way. God chose to call me unto Himself. A favorite verse of mine is Romans 5:8. Paul expresses the love of Christ for us simply and beautifully as he says:

"But God demonstrates His own love for us in this, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us."

His love for me isn't based upon my ability to please. It is not something that will be taken away when I fail. His love is enduring, constant, preexisting, and unmerited. I have a heart that overflows of thankfulness when I contemplate this Truth. I realize that life itself is worthy of deep thanks. Thanksgiving for my salvation should be the first thing on my lips in the morning and the last thought as I drift to sleep in the evening.

All I have comes from a benevolent, loving God. I pray that I will learn to be more thankful with each passing day for all He has given me. I am undeserving and still He has given me all a man could want.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Handmade Soap Open House

Jasper Speaks:

Recently a friend of a friend was INCREDIBLY gracious to us and offered to give proceeds of her soap business to us for our adoption. She is having an open house at her home November 8 but Kendra will be out of town that weekend. So, we will be hosting an open house at our place on December 9 from 6-8 PM. If you want to help us, this is a great way to do it and just in time for the holidays. You can check out her stuff here:

Save the Date! December 9th! 6-8pm
I am having an open house for you to buy the handmade soaps for our adoption fund! Just in time for Christmas!

And as always, your continued prayers are appreciated. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

As We Continue

Jasper Speaks:

We are in the process of filling out the forms for our home study. We are praying for the little one God has for us. We know He knows the full process and its end. We are praying that He will be keeping our child safe and bringing people who will be showing him or her the love of Christ.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Our Story

Jasper Speaks:

In 2007 God gave us a wonderful gift of a beautiful son named Jackson. He came to us not in the traditional way but through adoption. God gave us this wonderful child through the foster care system. He stole our hearts the first day we met him. God has taught us so much about His love for us through Jackson. We love him more than anything and he has helped us realize that God chooses each of us to be His. At that moment, He accepts us and calls us sons and daughters. He never again thinks of us as not His own. We understand this because we can say that of our little boy and us. 

Since we had been so greatly blessed by adoption, we almost immediately began contemplating adopting a second child. We believed that might be through foster care once again but those doors continually closed. We did not know what God’s plan was for us and at times that was very discouraging.

One night Kendra in 2009 was awoken from sleep. She began sobbing uncontrollably. She felt as though God was speaking to her heart. We were to adopt again. This time, God was calling us to do so internationally. At first we thought that Haiti was the country to which God was calling us. Many of our friends from our time in Maine were adopting from there and the stories were compelling. 

So we began to look. Even though so many we knew were choosing this country, we never had a peace about adopting from there. 
Next, Ghana seemed like the logical choice. Our church had a partnership with this country. In 2011 Jasper took his first trip there and fell in love with the children. There was a heart connection to that country for sure but still God had other plans.

We began to search and pray about from which country our adoption would come. Not wanting to limit God, we consider European and South American countries as options. One night we asked Jackson what he thought. He told us in an innocent, heartfelt way that he wanted a new child in our family to have the same skin color as him so he would not be the only one. We were perfectly willing to do that. We have a love for children of African decent and that love brought us Jackson. We felt that we now had a clear view of what continent we would pursue but the question of country still remained. 

Jasper began researching adoption agencies and found that one called European Adoption Consultants actually had two programs in Africa. One in Congo and one in Uganda. After talking with the agency, Uganda seemed to be the best fit and the most readily available for adoptions. Jasper also has a former college roommate whose family serves as missionaries in this country. 

The timeline from beginning to end usually takes about 18 months and we could be relatively assured of a child younger than Jackson. As we read more we found that there are 2.7 million orphans in Uganda. Our hearts break that we can’t find homes for each and every one of them. We do know, without a doubt, that this country will be the birthplace of a child we have not yet met but already love and cannot wait to add to our family.



Thursday, October 02, 2014

Provision

Jasper Speaks:


God is miraculously providing for our adoption. It seems that just when we need the money, God provides it. It is amazing to me that he would do such a thing. I sometimes wonder if we are meant to do this. It seems God squashes those thoughts by continuing to meet the large financial needs.

Also, someone we don't know personally, who is a friend of a friend has committed to helping us and it humbles our hearts. Find out about how soap can help bring our child home by clicking HERE.

We still have a LONG way to go and will still need support along the way but today we are rejoicing that we now have enough money to begin our homestusy process. God is faithful!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Power of Encouragement

Jasper Speaks:




Gary Chapman has written that there are five love languages.These are gifts, quality time, act of service, physical touch and words of affirmation. For me, I like to hear your love. I am mostly an auditory learner and that crosses over into how I feel loved. My family will tell you that I tell them several times a day that I love them. Sometimes my son will roll his eyes and sigh as he says, "Daaaad, you already told me that!" I most often express love to my family in the way I  best understand love myself. 

As a result of this language of love of mine, I have found that one of my prominent spiritual gifts is encouragement. I love to tell people things that will exhort them in their daily lives. I find rejuvenation in speaking or writing encouraging words to people. I want to celebrate with you when I see you succeed and I want to lift you up when you have failed. I like helping people feel as though the race that they are on is one that they are running well and can finish strong.

The Bible commands us all to be encouragers. Proverbs 12:25 says, "Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad." So many of us are anxious. Many of us are battling depression. The world can seem dark and lonely. Even "good Christians" can fall into these hollow places. Great theologians like Spurgeon and Chambers were known for the battles they faced daily with depression. This passage reminds us that we can help one another in this area. How does it say we can help those who are hurting? It says we can make someone's heart glad by issuing a good word --- an encouragement.

Think about your own life. I am certain you can recall a time when you had a hopelessness in your spirit and someone issued a good word that made your heart glad. I believe a primary way that we assist each other on the Christian journey is through encouragement. As we express the power of God's love through encouraging words (and actions), we help our brothers and sisters in Christ to see that there is so much more to life than our present circumstances.

Hebrews 3:13 says it best: "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." God commands that we encourage others every day. Why? Because Satan in a master deceiver and he is always at work to discourage believers. If we listen to his voice too long, our hearts grow hard to the Truth of God. When a fellow believer reminds us that Christ is King and His plan is at work, we are empowered by encouragement to let the voice of the enemy fall on deaf ears.

Today, if you are in a low place, let me remind you that Jesus died for you out of love for the person that you are. You do not have to worry about today or tomorrow because He has authored every letter of your story. He has promised that even if everyone you know has left you, He will never forsake you. The same Jesus who saved you from the pit of sin and despair, says that He came to bring you life to the fullest. Do not listen to the lies of the enemy as his purpose is to steal your joy, kill your witness and destroy your life. Your God wants to give you a life that is not free from hardship and sadness, but one that learns from difficulties and finds joy in every situation.

If you are doing well, I implore you to encourage someone today and everyday. You never know when the Lord will use you to be the voice of His love into someone's life. You may not feel like your gift is encouraging others and that is okay. God commands you to do it anyway. Let the Holy Spirit's comfort empower you to be the encouragement someone needs. You will be encouraged as well by speaking love into another's heart.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Updates and Ramble

Jasper Speaks:

Well the lifestyle plan is going pretty well. I am down 19 pounds since we started. I have such a LONG way to go. You have to keep the "marathon not a sprint" mantra in your head. I am feeling a little better and am sure the clean eating is helping.

We are getting ready as we enter October to enter fundraising crazy time. We will have several 31 parties and a bunco/Celebrating home fundraising night. We plan to have our first garage sale (at least that we host oursleves) during this time as well. We also are preparing t-shirts and our online giving pages are still up and running. It may take a village to raise a child but it takes a planet to raise money to adopt one.

We thank you all for your continued prayers. We are hoping that by the end of October we will have enough to get the homestudy off the ground and  move on towards placement. Thanks!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Missing You 


Jasper Speaks

One of the issues that comes up as you wait to adopt is that you start to miss a child you do not yet know. It is an odd phenomenon for someone who has never experienced it. For those of us who have, it seems reasonable and natural. You see, like biological birth, when you first find out about adopting the anticipation begins. You start to wonder what your child will be like. Will it be a boy or a girl? Will it be healthy? How will you prepare for his or her coming? Then you realize that the time when your family will be complete is a very long way off. That is when the missing begins.

Unlike biological birth, adoption has no clear timeline. There is no waiting nine months and a new life is welcomed into yours. It can sometimes take years for adoptions to complete. After placement the missing gets harder but even before, you miss this dear child you have not yet seen.

We are at the start of the missing stage. As the realization that we are going to be parents again is sinking in, we are beginning to wonder what blessing God will give us. We know that very likely our child is already born. He or she may be in dangerous situations that are affecting their mental and physical health. We know we have no control over these things that could very well affect our family for years. These concerns only amplify the missing.

Adoption takes a lot of trust. Trust in the agency. Trust in the country of origin. Trust in the orphanage. But mostly it takes trust in God. He has a plan. Before the foundation of the world he chose this child to be a part of our lives. His timing is perfect and He stands ready to hold our hearts in His hands through the miss.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Faith Over Fear

Jasper Speaks:

Many emotions surround adopting. There is, of course, excitement. You can hardly wait for the time when you meet your child. There is joy as you think about life with this new person. There is love brimming over for someone you have yet to meet. That love is hard to explain to others but has already begun to invade your soul.


There is also fear. There is fear of the unknown. There is fear that you will not be able to raise the funds. There is fear that all the money could be for naught and somewhere along the way, something will go wrong and you will not bring your child home.

Adopting takes a lot of faith. You have to move along in the process because you believe God has brought you to this place. It is similar to walking into a dark, unfamiliar room. You are stepping slowly and cautiously hoping that everything will be all right. So many questions fill your mind. Some nights you lie awake and wonder how in the world all this could actually come together. The financial burden alone is overwhelming. You pray that you are not being a nuisance to your friend and family. You seek out as many ways as you can humbly ask for help. You fear losing people in your life because you have approached them for money to help you.

As an adoptive father, I know it is worth the fear to live in faith. I am reminded of that every time I kiss the forehead of my wonderful son. As I sit with him on my lap sometimes, I think about what his life would have been like if he had not come to our home. Then I think of how empty our lives would be without him. In these moments I realize that, yes, adoption is a scary thing. However, I realize that adoption changes lives. It has changed my son’s life.  It has changed mine.


God’s Word is resplendent with the power of adoption on a spiritual level. It is a visual reminder of God’s love for us.  The Bible also tells us that perfect love drives out fear. As I go to bed tonight, I am certain that there will be adoption fears as I close my eyes. My prayer is that my faith in the God who is in charge of this journey will outweigh those fears. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Our Adoption Journey So Far

Jasper Speaks:

In 2007, we became parents. God gave us a wonderful son through adoption through the foster care system. He came and completed our family in a wonderful way. We have learned so much about God and ourselves through this miracle. We have had many people ask us if we would adopt again and we always said we did not know for sure but we would be open to doing so. In 2011, Kendra woke up from sleep with a deep burden to adopt again. This time God planted a burden for international adoption in her heart. Jasper prayed about this and quickly felt the same burden.
When our journey began we thought that the country we would pursue was Haiti. We knew several people adopting from this country and knew the need there was great. We prayed and considered God’s call to this country. As we prayed and started doing research, we did not feel like God was opening the door to Haiti. This halted our pursuit for a while as we sought after where God would have us go. One night we were talking with our son and we asked him what he would think about getting a sibling. He told us he would like our new child to be dark skinned like him. Since we had a connection to Ghana, we also considered adopting from there. The more we researched and prayed we could not gain a peace about Ghana either.
Jasper continued seeking an adoption agency that could lead us through this process. He found a website for European Adoption Consultants. As he talked with the staff of EAC recommended Uganda. The more research and prayer that we pursued, the more we had a peace about Uganda. We found out that it is a majority Christian nation and gives preference to Christian families. We also found out the need in Uganda is great. There are 2.9 million orphans in Uganda. The more we found out about Uganda, the deeper our burden for this country grew. We have grown certain that Uganda is the place where our child lives.
We had this call confirmed as God miraculously provided our first $3500 in less than twenty-four hours. Now we are at the second stage in our financial journey. We need to raise another $2000 to secure our home study that will let our placement process begin. We know that God has been faithful thus far and we know that although by the time we are finished this adoption will cost well over $20,000 there is hope. As we receive funds, the entire process could be complete in 18 months. God is in this and we know He will provide for our family to be together soon.

To see our progress or to give to our fundraising check out our funraising page:
www.youcaring.com/rains2uganda

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Never Walk Alone

Jasper Speaks:

Sometimes life can be very difficult. We feel far from God. We wrestle with habitual sins in our hearts. We feel like giving up. We listen to the voice of the enemy as he tries to convince us that holiness is not worth it. He tried to remind us of how difficult living a life surrendered to God’s will can be. As we listen to his lies, we begin to forget the rewards of Christian living and succumb to living a life Thoreau referred to as one of “quiet desperation”.

One of the reasons we fall into this trap is because we are not spending the time we need to be spending in quality relationships with other believers. It is easy to forget the promises of God as we try to “go it alone”. We live in a world that encourages and celebrates self-reliance. However, this concept is foreign to Scripture. God encourages us to be interdependent on fellow believers. God knows that life is hard and without those also embarked on the journey, we will become hopeless and dry.

That is why God reminds us over and over again in Scripture to encourage one another. God did not promise that life would be easy but he did promise us that we have hope. It has been said that life is hard but God is good. This concept is hard to recall when we are downtrodden and dry. So, God commands us to come alongside one another and remind one another of the bigger, God ordained picture. He puts it this way in Hebrews:

Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.  Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.
                                                                               Hebrews 10:23-25 (NIV)

Is your spirit dry? Are you listening to the lies of the enemy? Remember there is hope. Seek out your fellow believers and walk this life by their side. Remember that our hope we have can be trusted because our God always keeps his promises.

Are you feeling like your life is good? Take time to find those who need to be reminded of God’s hope. Let us, as the writer of Hebrews encouraged us, think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. Help someone who needs a boost of encouragement today. You may need that boost tomorrow.


God’s plan is that we all have a family of believers to help us through life. Satan’s plan is to steal our joy, kill our witness and destroy our lives. When we surround ourselves with our Christian family, his lies are harder to believe. Choose today to hold without wavering to God’s hope. 

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Adoption and Healthy Living

Jasper Speaks:

We are well into the fund raising for our adoption from Uganda. We have paid the first fees to the adotpion agency and are trying to raise what we need for our home study. This is about $2000. Sometimes it seems we will never meet the goal but we know that God is in this and he can make it happen. We long to bring a child from this country into our home. We want to help end the orphan crisis in the world. I find myself wishing that I could convince so many more people of the importance of this need. If we would stop looking inwardly and start seeing the world, this difference would be made. Our YouCaring page has helped us bring in some donations as well as a yard sale a friend did for us. We will have our own yard sale soon.

As we preapre for the adoption I am trying again to get healthy. I feel like this child (and the one I already have) deserve a dad who can play with him or her and who will be around for a long time. I am trying to really learn to eat to live rather than live to eat.

This time my support group is RetroFit Ministries. It is a 60 day challenge put together by a father son team from season 11 of The Biggest Loser. I remember Ken and Austin well from that season. Their program helps you better understand how your spiritual life and your physical health are tied together. I am in the first week and like always the first week is going well. I just pray that as I continue, I won't get discouraged. I am also praying for the will power to work out more regularly. This aspect is like pulling teeth for me.

We are still using Advocare and I do love their products. They give the energy boost I need and I see results from using them. I recommend both of these groups as aids if you are looking to live a healthier life. I pray that this time next year I will be sitting here much smaller and with a date to meet our child. God can do both things and I believe he will. Please pray for Kendra, Jackson and I as we continue on this journey of health and family.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Jasper Speaks


First World Problems

Sometimes I get frustrated. I mean really frustrated. Most of the time it is about minor things. I get stopped on every light on my trip. I can’t get the computer program to work. My cell phone won’t unlock. These are all things we call first world problems.

In my frustrations I forget how blessed I am. I concentrate on the temporary things rather than eternal. I look at the world around me and somehow I see it through carnal rather than spiritual eyes. I let the enemy distract me from what I know is important. I let myself get frustrated by things I may not even remember tomorrow.

In just a short time I will be visiting Ghana for the fifth time. My heart is full. I have learned to love the country and its people.  I cannot express how beautiful it is to worship with brothers and sisters in Christ from across the world.

Ghana is a much more relaxed country. Times are merely suggestions. You come and go at your own pace. Frustration is sometimes hard to find. Where we serve, in Nima, there is great poverty. Most people live with their families in homes the size of some of our walk in closets. There are few beds. There are no toilets. Still, in all my travels, I have never once heard a Ghanaian complain about this. They are content with what they have. Their smiles are infectious and quickly remind you that most of our problems are first world problems.
As you go about your day today, my prayer is that you, like me would be reminded that God has blessed us with much. I pray that I will remember that this world, frustrations and all, is simply a temporary spot for me. I pray that we all will recall what Paul said to the Corinthians:

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18


When frustrations hit you today. Remind yourself that you are blessed and then pray that The Lord will help you focus not on today, but on eternity.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rise Up:

Jasper Speaks::


Check out this great new worship songs by one of my favorite bands of all time, Lost and Found.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Purpose?

Jasper Speaks:

There are days (and it seems like a lot of them lately) when I wonder what I am here for. Is there a real purpose to my life. I seem to screw up all the time. I can't please people. I can't provide for my family the way I would like. I can't honor God in all things. I can't love enough. It is stressful. It is hard and frankly, life stinks.

My own goal and vision for life seems to sometimes be in a direct opposition to God. It is hard to maintain a positive attitude in these situations. As I search the Word I take comfort in the promise that I am not in control.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earthso my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:8-9


Glad that God has a way but sometimes I am frustrated that I don't always understand.