Thursday, October 30, 2014

Confidence Climb

Out here at Down Range, we have this thing called an obstacle course. I'm not real sure where your mind goes when you read the words "obstacle course," but if you can imagine military style obstacles that are very hard and scary then you are getting close to the image. 

I could talk about many things involved with the obstacle course, but I want to focus on one obstacle.... The Confidence Climb. 

Here is a photo of Danielle and CJ at the bottom of it. It's 35 feet high! Seriously. They look all cute at the bottom but most people standing at the bottom getting ready to climb are thinking... 
Well... I won't type what they're thinking. 

Okay. Here are a few quick details about the obstacle. 

Goal: CLIMB TO THE TOP (preferably climbing up the middle and not touching the side poles)

Details: Notice the bottom two boards are fairly close together? The higher you climb, the farther apart the boards get. 
You are harnessed in and someone, usually my husband, is belaying you. 

See this photo? Danielle (she rocks by the way) is harnessed in and Lee is at the bottom on belay. 

I have literally watched a hundred plus people climb that thing. Some of them have been very athletic, and some of them do not have an ounce of athleticism in their body.
I've also watched extremely athletic people stop midway because they cannot overcome fear. 

It's interesting to watch people. It's called the confidence climb because it is just that.
It's a mental toughness. 

The climb becomes scary when reaching the next board is difficult. Frequently people will yell down, "what do I do?" "How do I get to the next board?"
People standing below will begin instructing them on how to move to the next board. 

The people below the tower instruct because they can see the whole tower. We can tell exactly what position their body is in and what position it needs to get to. We can see how far or close they are to achieving the next level. 
Slowly, but surely they trust our instructions and they will proceed to the top. 

Other times, they will slip and the rope will catch them. One of two things will happen: they will get scared and want to come down, or they will realize that they are extremely safe in the harness and they will gain a whole new level of confidence - sometimes fearlessly completing the obstacle! The latter is cool to watch! 

So... Last week... I decided I had watched enough kids climb that thing and I was gonna give it a whirl (I ABSOLUTELY HATE HEIGHTS!) 

So I strapped in, told my husband he better not drop me, and I began the climb. I got on about the 6th one and I couldn't reach the next one. That meant I was going to have to let go with an extremity or 2 in order to climb to the next one. 

My heart was racing. Fear was creeping in. I couldn't see where my body was or how far the next board was. I couldn't see the whole tower like when I'm on the ground. 

I screamed down "how high am I??" I didn't want to look. 

So I did what I should have never done... I turned around and looked down. 

A rush of fear came over me!! Sure, I wasn't 35 feet high, but it didn't matter! I was scared. 

That was it. I couldn't mentally force my physical body to move any higher. Lee began telling me how to reach the next board, but it didn't matter. Fear overrode everything I trusted. It overrode Lee, the rope, the harness and my own physical ability. 
Fear and doubt became the only voices I could hear. 

So I came down. 

Now, I'm gonna show you this picture of me. It's lame!! I'm not very high. It's not as cool as Danielle's but if you laugh... You come try it! 

That night I contemplated that climb. 

I'm more athletic (or use to be) than half those kids that make it to the top. 
What happened? 

And it was as if God began to poor an illustration into me. 

When He calls us to take a big step of faith... It looks a lot like this confidence climb. 

Our adoption is a lot like this confidence climb! 

However, a human isn't belaying us.... 
Our perfect Heavenly Father is in complete control. 

God can see the whole picture. He has complete control of every ounce of the journey (except his grace to give us free will). 

Before we took this leap of faith, we had to have confidence in something. People don't start the confidence climb without having a little trust in the rope, the harness, the belayer and their own ability.
 We stood on the ground and looked at the journey ahead. Sure, it looked hard, but we had confidence in the one belaying us. We had confidence that our trust in Him would carry us to the next board when things became tough. 

So we harnessed in and began the climb. 

One thing you cannot feel when you are standing on the ground below the tower is how powerful your emotions become once you are climbing. 

Fear is a powerful thing. 
It creeps in and can become completely overwhelming. You can feel the wind beat against you, your heart racing, body shaking and sweat pouring. It's hard to hear anything outside the thoughts racing through your mind. You can barely see the next board. You have no idea how far you are from the top. You reach and can't feel. You seem to have lost your balance. Trust in everything flees from you. And all you want to do is return to the ground. 

Everything you knew to be True while standing on the ground gets put to the test. 
Do you TRULY trust the rope?
Do you TRULY trust the person on belay?
Do you TRULY think you can make it to the top? 

In this adoption journey, every OUNCE of our faith has been put through the fire to be tested. 
Do we TRULY believe He is faithful? 
Do we TRULY believe He is provider?
Do we believe He can do the impossible?
Do we believe He will complete the journey He called us to? 
Do we believe He is able? 

Having your faith tested is exhausting and emotional. There are days when you just want to give up and return to the ground. The past few weeks God has revealed some places where my faith in Him lacks. 
It's been emotional and trying. 

There are days when the voices in my head are so loud that I cannot hear what God is saying. 
There are days when I do not have the strength to even attempt reaching to the next board. 

But little by little we are silencing the voices in our heads and listening to the instructions from below. 

"Keep going" 
"You're almost there" 
"Don't give up now"
"I've got you" 

And we reach to the next board. 

And the next.

And the next. 

We still cannot see the top from where we stand... But we know it's there. 
We TRUST that it's there. 

We continue climbing even though we are physically shaking and completely exhausted. 

People say that the view at the top of the tower is beautiful. I'm sure the beauty of the scene is magnified by the emotions you feel because you overcame fear, doubt and physical testing. 

At the end of this journey, we won't be looking over a lake. Instead, we will get to see a glimpse of our Creator like we have never seen before. As we stand there, we will be filled with a new confidence in who He is and what He is capable of doing. 

We will stand on top... Looking back at how hard and difficult the journey was. We will be filled with joy to have overcome in Christ. 

THAT is a view worth seeing. 

And we simply cannot wait to see it! 

Until then, we are slowly but surely continuing to climb. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

5K Fundraiser!! Very Exciting!

We have been invited to participate in a 5K fundraising event on November 15 called Hearts of Compassion. We are so thrilled about this awesome awareness and fundraising opportunity.
Before I explain the fundraiser, I first wanted to address adoption funds.
I feel like it's important for people who are extending a hand to help us to understand exactly what funds are needed and where the money is going.
Our application to this 5K required us to write down all of our adoption funds. So I looked it up on our agency's website and my heart dropped.
$38,000 dollars!
Yep, that was the closest estimate I could come up with.
Here is the link to our adoption agency's website telling exactly where some of the funds go.
The best I can tell, we are approximately 12-15,000 dollars "in" right now.
So we still have a long way to go!
Now to the 5K fundraiser!!
Colonial Heights Church has had this 5K called Hearts of Compassion for 3 years now (I think). Anyway, this is the first year they offered it to adoptive families to use as a fundraiser. We are 1 of 6 or 7 adoptive families that are participating this year!
The race works like a St Jude Marathon or the Bike for MS.
Participants in the race try to raise money for the "cause." In this case, our adoption is the "cause."
Colonial Heights Ministry partner in this race is Lifesong for Orphans
If you have never heard of them, you should check them out. They are legit and great. We had to fill out an application with them so that we could set up an account for this fundraiser. Trust me, the application was VERY thorough!
So for those of you still confused about how this works, I will try to break it down a little more.
We need runners and walkers!
If you cannot run or walk because you live too far or are busy or just simply don't want to, that's okay! Sponsor one of our runners or walkers!
We don't receive benefits from people simply signing up for the race. Our fundraising happens through people sponsoring those who are racing!
One way that we are thinking about empowering our runners to raise money is through "sticker sponsorship." The idea is a branch of Tee Shirt sponsorships (you know, when a company sponsors a Tee Shirt, they get their company logo on the back of the shirt).
With that concept in mind, we are thinking about getting each runner to sell stickers.
If you buy a sticker, your name will be put on it and the runner that you sponsored will wear the sticker on the back of their shirt during the race!
We hope to have lots of runners with lots of names all over the backs of their shirts!!
So if "Sally" decides to run in the race and she sells 10 stickers for 25$ each, that is 250$ towards our adoption!!
I hope that somewhat cleared it up.
Let me know if you sign up and I will tell the appropriate people that you are on our "team."
Then I will connect with you and give you more details about the race including how to get sponsors, how to have them donate, getting stickers, and the "attire" for our team!!
If you can't sign up but want to sponsor a runner (including me and Lee) just shoot me a message and we can make that happen!!
Thanks for continuing to journey with us!
We are slowly getting closer to our little man!
We are hopeful to have a referral by February 2016! I know that seems like a long time away, but it's actually only a little over a year away!!