Tuesday, October 23, 2012

{i am a little pencil.}

About 3 years ago, when we began our adoption for Ageze & Tesfa, I reached out to a few people via FB/blog that lived in Ethiopia. Each family that I contacted had something in common...they had adopted from Ethiopia, had large families & they had mission-minded hearts & were/are living out the gospel. During the last few years, I have asked many questions, picked their brains, prayed together & dreamt about our family making the move into the mission field. I did alot of dreaming. I felt a connection with Heavenly Hope/The Dutton's the first time we messaged back & forth...They gave me another name of a missionary family living in Addis at the time, The Letourneau's. So, I messaged them & stayed in close contact with them all awhile they were living in ET. And, we still do. The Letourneau family came to stay with us a year ago while they were in Bismarck, in which they spoke at our church. But, they did more than just speak at our church. A real, authentic, close friendship was formed in those 4 days they were with us. They are the type of people that you just want to be close to. The love of Christ literally shines through them, their smiles were incredibly bright & they have a love for God & His people that is unbelievably beautiful. The feeling in our home during their stay was nothing short of amazing. The Lords presence was all around. It was so peaceful. Before they left, they gave me "The Hole in Our Gospel." I've read, re-read it & now I'm gonna pass it on...

Here is a paragraph that just won't leave me...

Here I want to make a key point: it is not our fault that people are poor, but it IS our responsibility to do something about it. God says that we are guilty if we allow people to remain deprived when we have the means to help them. It is our moral duty to help our neighbors in need. We cannot look at their situation and simply say, "Not my problem." Neither can we sit smugly in our comfortable bubbles and claim no responsibility for the disadvantaged in our world. God did not leave us that option.

After the Letourneau's went back home, we continued to talk, Skype, fb....they encouraged us to continue to pray that God would show us in mighty ways, the plans He had for us. Like I've said before, we prayed & prayed that God would reveal how our next season in our lives would go. Many times, I tried talking God out of the desire that was placed on my heart. Did we really want to do something that is so out of the norm? Did we really want to follow Him, even in the hard? I mean, "God, this is so crazy...who actually moves their family to Ethiopia??" Once again reminded of the above....Neither can we sit smugly in our comfortable bubbles and claim no responsibility for the disadvantaged in our world. God did not give us that option.

So, "Yes, God!!" Even when it's hard. We will follow You!!

In between talking with Destiny & Joey and Terina & John, we knew without a doubt that God had a very clear vision. A plan that began stirring in our hearts 3 years ago. Wow, has God been patient with us!! So, fast forward to about 4 months ago....Terina & I were talking one morning, I explaining that my heart, along with Kasey has been stirring for so long. We had/have been praying that God would either close the door loudly or open it & open it wide, so our hearts & minds wouldn't toss back and forth. We prayed & prayed some more. We just knew/know that our lives are meant for more. More HIM. Less of us. Less of our stuff. More of Him. She said, "you know, actually John & I have been praying since February that we would love to see the right family step up and out into the mission field with Heavenly Hope in Addis." My jaw dropped onto my keyboard. Our dreams & desires were clearly laid out before me over the phone. God was clearly speaking. We visited/laughed/dreamt about how we could be used for Gods glory in Addis. Thankful that even in the moments of doubting, blurriness, frustration...that God would continue to speak to us. And, He continues to do so, every. single. day. We are on the right path. Standing strong. Praying steady.

Mother Teresa once said, "I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world." She had it right. We're not authors, any of us. We are just the "pencils." Once we understand that, we might actually become useful to God.

Excited to share with you our HHM website soon!!!!    xo

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

{we found love.}

I like to say..."we found love!" And, if you haven't heard the song called "We found Love"....you should most definitely check it out here..

We took a leap of love 2 1/2 years ago & in the process of that leap, we found exactly what God had in store for us. His love. His faithfulness. His goodness. His strength. We found all of those things in Ethiopia. And in America too. I've been a christian for many years now, but up until a few years ago, I honestly never fully grasped how Great our God was/is! We set off for Ethiopia in 2010 to pick up our 2 youngest sons & I could never have imagined that we would also find love in the country that held our children. I mean, I knew it would be a great experience & all. I just didn't understand or know how deeply it would impact me & the rest of our family. I am in complete awe when I look at each of our children...tears fill my eyes and all I can do is thank God. The healing & restoration that only God could perform is incredible. And, not just for our Ageze, Tesfa & Ariyat...I think the same for Grant & Kate too...for a few different reasons obviously, but He is just so good. After returning home to the States in July 2010 with our 2 newest children grasping onto us...there was no denying what was left behind. Ethiopia. From the minute we left Ethiopia, we knew we'd be returning. Just 2 short years later, Ariyat came home to us!! Again, Ethiopia would not leave our minds. Yes, there were days I would beg that it would. Life would be so much easier to live here in our comfy, cozy little home in the States. A steady, stable income, a reliable car, (or 2 for that matter), our family all within a 10 minute drive, drive-thru restaurants at every corner, Target.

But, God. God doesn't want me to live an "easy, comfortable" life.

He knew that my heart would stir after visiting Ethiopia. He knows me. He knew that once my heart was stirred, it wouldn't stop. He knows each of us so very well. And, I'm so glad He does. He knows what is best for me. He knows how our move to Ethiopia will impact our whole family. He knows every thought & concern that passes through my mind. He puts me at ease & gives me peace. God & I have had many talks in the past few years...they've gone something like this..."God, thank you for opening my eyes. To You. To others. To others needs. Our desire is to follow you Lord. In all that we do. Lord, if that ever means that You pick our family up & move us somewhere out of our comfort zone, Lord, we are willing...did you hear me...we are willing. We want to live each day to glorify You Lord, whether it be in our neighborhood or across the ocean, may You be glorified." I would pray this many times a day. I'm not even kidding. Then one morning while I was showering, I heard the Lord clearly say..."Go! You said you were willing, what are you waiting for, what are you holding onto?" In my head many things came to mind...my house. my reliable car. my kids' beds. their bedrooms. my backyard that I landscaped on my own. my flowers. our FAMILY. And, once again He said..."your flowers, really? Your stuff? It's all just stuff, Kristen. I can understand you missing your family Kristen, but they are MINE. Hand it all over to Me!"

"Ok, Lord...I get it...You want all of me!!!" He has my heart. He has our family in the palm of His hands. He has yours too. So, we give up what is comfortable and follow Him. Obviously, each of us has a completely different, unique, special story. This is just a brief part of the story He has written for mine. I'd love to hear yours:)

Can't wait to share with you how we became connected with Heavenly Hope Ministries!!!

Monday, October 8, 2012

My thoughts on moving to Ethiopia....by Grant.

I am so excited about moving to Ethiopia. I am excited about meeting new friends. I am excited about experiencing living in Addis. When I went there in March I had an awesome time. I am excited to see Konjit , Binyam, Rahel, Fekadu, Joel, and Sam. I am excited to see how God leads our family when we're there. Ethiopia feels like Home.
(this is Grant in Amharic)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Leap...

Oh, where to start!!!! Like I said...our family is about to make a huge, exciting, life-changing leap! A leap that would've scared me immensely just a couple of years ago. A leap that just 8 months ago we could picture ourselves doing, but just not yet. A leap that was planted in our hearts 2 1/2 years ago as we stepped foot on Ethiopian soil. And, I can't believe that the seed that was planted in our hearts that day in July 2010....would have ever grown into this!! Well, I guess I can....because God is amazing like that!! There is so much to say. So many emotions I feel. Excitement. Nerves. Anticipation. Amazement. In awe. Humbled. Grateful. And a few tears here & there.

Fill us up...send us out!!!! Fill us up...send us out!!!!

One of my favorite verses....
Isaiah 6:8 
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

We have prayed and prayed for the last two years..."Lord, wherever you call our family to, we will be obedient and GO!" Not that we weren't or aren't happy with life as it is. We are abundantly blessed. But, as a family, we are very open to what & where God is calling us to. Since traveling to Ethiopia in July 2010 & 2012...we haven't been the same. We can't shake it. We aren't going to try to shake it any longer. So, with that..........

Our family will be moving to the beautifully created country of Ethiopia!! We will be living in Addis Ababa....the place where chunks of our hearts have been left. And, we are longing to return!!!! 

Are we crazy, you ask???? Yep, crazy about Our God!!! Crazy about following Him. And, what will we be doing??? We will serve as the Executive Directors for Heavenly Hope Ministries Africa! And, we couldn't be more honored and excited...Thank you Lord. You see, its not about us rescuing the "least of these" in Ethiopia, but it is about Jesus and how He has rescued us and we want our lives to reflect that and honor Him.

We can hardly wait to live life with the people of Ethiopia. It gives me chills dreaming about the relationships that will grow throughout our time in Addis.  When do we take this leap? Well, making this commitment to Christ was the 1st step of our "leap!" So, we've officially begun our "leap!" The target date for all 7 of us to head on over will be no later than September 2013!!!

Within this next week... I will be sharing more from my heart, about how this has all fallen into place & how great our God is, who has stirred our hearts for something more! But, until then...take a peek at this video from Heavenly Hope...it will give you a glimpse of what we will be doing in Ethiopia. Turn off our blog music on bottom left of page before watching video.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

whats in a name....{ this here blog...LEAP OF LOVE.}

Leap of love. About 3 years ago, we sat in our living room ( at the time) and discussed what we shall name our blog. This blog would hold many memories, journeys, adventures, leaps, bounds, trials & errors. Since I've never been great at keeping up with our kids' baby books, this was a way that we could document our family happenings & eventually turn this blog into a book!! As this blog started out as "ours," it most certainly has been handed over to God. No, he's not the one sitting here next to me typing this all out, but He definitely has His hand all over it. You're probably sitting there wondering where this is going...You see, 3 years ago as we were deciding on a name, many thoughts came to mind. Should we say..."leap of faith" "Gilliss gang" "leap of trust"....And, all I could keep coming back to was "Leap of love"...I also struggled with it....when deciding, all I could think of was..."gosh, it's not like it's that hard of a leap to love a child" like we were choosing to do...through adoption. (It IS hard at times.) I've always loved children. I dreamt from a very young age that someday I would adopt. Not from Ethiopia. From China. The only thing I had ever heard about Ethiopia...was how poor & desperate the country was. I was sure of going to China someday, but not Ethiopia. Never. Wow, has God opened our eyes!! Anyhow, back to that "leap!" Little did I know, saying "yes" to God 3 years ago to open our hearts to Ethiopia & adoption was just the beginning!! We, as a family, are going into this next "leap" in our lives with much prayer, insight, confidence, excitement, anticipation & nerves. Never could I have imagined the story He was writing when He set our hearts on fire for the "least of these."                        

          I challenge you to take a "leap!" It might seem like a small one to begin with or a very large one...whichever it may be...LEAP!! Gods got you!!!
        Can't wait to share with you this next "LEAP" that God is leading our family on!!!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

soccer jamboree & pumpkin patch fun!!

This past weekend was fun filled!! Saturday we had Ageze & Grants soccer jamborees!! They are both truly loving this soccer season...they each played 2 games  & then off we went to the pumpkin patch!! The weather was beautiful & the pumpkins plenty!! We love the tradition of going to the "patch" when Fall arrives! And, it most certainly has...It is a cool 45 degrees & we are nestled up in our house today!! Although I'm not too fond of the season after Fall, I sure do enjoy cozy-ing up, baking, fall-scented candles & the fun Fall activities!!      

                                             Jack. Grant. Ageze....Best buds!!

                                                                         Our 5!!

                                     these 2 girls are always singing & dancing:)