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What Life is REALLY All About…

My husband and I were just enjoying a cup of decaf and began discussing football (if you KNOW US you are really wondering WHY we are discussing football!). Well, we live in the South–and it’s the land of college football, but we, honestly, think it’s crazy (sorry football fans–we just don’t get it! I know, I know…you saw my title–then read the first sentence about football…and you thought this was going to be a really good post;). I was telling Richard about my LAST Auburn game that I went to. I think it was about 10 years ago (now…some Auburn fans reading this might be gasping;). The last game I attended, I remember standing in the end zone stands and hearing the crowd go WILD. They were cheering like CRAZY…I mean, passionate crazy—and for a moment I felt like I was dreaming standing there in amazement…and I just didn’t get it. As I stood there, I started wondering what the Lord thought about football…I’m NOT claiming to KNOW what He thinks about a sport and I really just don’t *know* what He thinks…BUT I couldn’t HELP but to begin to wonder and reflect on this question.

I wondered if He would like to receive praise like that. To have thousands upon thousands of dedicated fans–who LIVED AND BREATHED His game…who shamelessly passed people and greeted them as His fans…to have people that scheduled their lives around living for Him…to have followers that didn’t care about the person sitting to their left or right when they choose to lift their hands and worship or shout words of praise to Him. I thought and thought and thought…I mean, really—think about it at your next game…I try to do that in every little thing I do. As I sat there and tried to cheer…NOTHING was wrong with it—it just wasn’t quite as much fun for me anymore. I know this probably sounds crazy, but I just thought, “Hmmm…I really don’t care about football. I know it might bring people together. But, it’s just not for me.” I can’t explain it–but it just seemed silly all of the sudden cheering for a team where I didn’t even know any of the players on the field. (Trust me…I’ll be among the crowd if any of my kids are ever playing;)

Tonight, I shared this with Richard–and EVEN though his dad was a defensive end at Georgia and there is even a scholarship there in his honor…and you’d THINK we’d be fans or at least watch the games…for us, the game just lost its luster. It’s funny that I brought this up to find out my husband had coffee with some friends just last week. They were talking about all the emails they had been getting from friends about football–and although he used to LOVE the sport, he too–just doesn’t get spending too much time being consumed with it…so Richard posed the question, “What’s the big deal with football anyway?” It was very interesting to hear what his friend who is not a believer said: “I think it’s a distraction from the world. It’s something that brings people together. It’s something people can focus on, and it takes their minds off other things—and gets them excited.”

Hmmm…were my thoughts exactly. And I couldn’t help but WISH that my Savior could be all those things to the world instead. I wish He could be the thing that brought thousands of thousands together…what distracts us from the world…and what takes our mind off hard things and gets us excited about life. Because REALLY there is NOTHING more exciting OR life-changing than being in His game!!! And because there is NOTHING more WOW than being in HIS game!!!

Immediately after having this conversation–I checked my email to read an incredible story of how God can blow your socks off as you radically follow Him. I squealled and called Richard in to let me read it aloud to him–only I was in tears for most of it (no football game could ever have that effect on me!!!) I want to share this amazing play-by-play that happened JUST THIS WEEKEND. It is a story of a family with OUR adoption agency. They WERE on the waitlist to bring home ONE baby from Ethiopia. They already have 3 children…which makes this story already amazing. I asked Sherry if I could share her story. I dare you to try and read this one outloud to your husband!!! I tried and couldn’t do it!! Grab some tissues before you do!!! God AMAZES me how He works—and THIS my friends is what I get excited about!!!!!!! Here is a letter of their story…

Family & Friends,

I hope you are doing well. I am writing to fill you in on the whirlwind of events that have taken place over the last 60 hours with our adoption. As most of you know Sherry and I had been in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. By God’s grace we had our home study done, training done, and had completed all the major paperwork needed. We were just waiting to move up on the lists.
Wednesday night as I was headed home from work Sherry called, she had asked if I had seen an email about a mother in town who had triplets and was needing to find a home for them. I said “no,” but asked her to fill me in on details. With what little information she had, she filled me in, describing the boys, “they are six months old, they were born extremely premature, one is still in the hospital and has many special medical needs, the mother is 18 and realizes she can’t give her boys the life she wants for them, and that we should be praying for them.” I cannot express to you the immediate pull on my heart for these boys, even as I type this tears are welding up. We began talking about the boys, about the courage of the mom to make such a big decision, and we both realized that both of our hearts were drawn towards them. Our initial thought was that there was no way this would be possible, we thought for sure the adoption agency would tell us “no” because of the fact that we have 3 little ones at home already. But alas after much time of prayer and conversation we decided to call the agency and tell them that we were interested. We called and left a voicemail, not really expecting a call back that same night.

As we were bathing the kids and getting them ready for bed we got a call back, we were surprise to say the least. As I talked on the phone with our agent I began explaining the immediate draw in my heart for these boys, expecting that they would tell us we weren’t a good fit at any moment. Their response was not what I expected at all, she told me, “I have been thinking all day about a family that could handle this, a mom who would give these boys the love and attention that they need, and I kept thinking about you guys… I kept thinking about Sherry…” I couldn’t believe those words were coming out of her mouth, I was in shock. She filled me in on more details about the boys. “They were born February 26 and the mother was only 24 weeks when the c-section was performed. Two of the boys are healthy and developing as expected. They are still on oxygen, but are expected to come off it sometime soon. The other boy is a beautiful boy who will require much more attention. He was born weighing only 13 ounces (the mother told me today that he was a little bit smaller than a barbie doll when he came out, if you can imagine that). He has had liver failure, he has a severe vitamin d deficiency that has caused several fractures in his body. He has broken both of his arms, both of his legs, and his jaw. In addition to that he has a g-tube (a tube that is inserted into his stomach for feeding), and is still on oxygen, BUT he has fought through as is ready to go home this week.” As she was describing these boys (names Cameron, Christian and Caleb — who is still in the hospital) my heart was crushed for them. Tears began streaming down my face and I began to feel a love for them that I cannot express. Sherry was crying, I was crying and we knew that if even if we weren’t the ones to take the boys home we still loved them, loved the mom, and were committed to pray for them. We got off the phone and a flood of emotions and feelings came rushing in. Feelings of joy, fear, love, brokenness, and helplessness.

The next day (Thursday) we got a call from the agency telling us that we were scheduled to meet with the mother on Friday, but not to get our hopes up because there was another family meeting with her, and the mother will choose what family she thinks best fits. I kept thinking there is no way she will choose us, we already have 3 kids, surely this is the door that God will shut. Sherry and I spent all day in prayer over this, all the while feeling a peace about pursuing this that I cannot explain. We decided not to call our family or anyone because we didn’t know what the mother was going to choose, and we didn’t want to get our hopes up. I even remember praying over and over again, “Lord if this is not your will please close the doors, don’t let this happen, but give these boys a home.” After a long night, with very little sleep, Friday came. At work I could not concentrate, there was strange dichotomy off feelings, both nervousness and peace inundated me. Around mid-morning Sherry got a call from the agency stating that the other family dropped out. She told me and immediately my heart was filled with joy, but it was a very surreal feeling. I was still nervous, I thought what if she doesn’t like us, or what if she has a problem with us already having kids. Fears and doubts crept in, not of pursuing — but of the mother not being in favor of our pursuit.

We met with her at 3:15 Friday afternoon. What’s crazy is her requirements for the family matched us exactly: a hispanic / anglo mixed family, a dad with a stable job, a mom who stays home… and the list goes on. Everything she wanted was us. We began sharing with her our love for adoption, the church, our family, and even about God’s love for us and the gospel. The connection we made with her and the time spent in that small office was one that I will never forget. She shared with us her love for the boys. And that at 24 weeks she had to make the toughest decision of her life. At a routine check up they found out that the blood flow had stopped going to Caleb. They told her that she could just let him die and the other two would deliver fine. Or she could do c-section, but then put all the boys at risk. She said with a resounding boldness that she “wanted to give ALL her boys a chance at life.” So they delivered all three. It was a fruitful time of sharing our love for adoption, and God’s love for us. She expressed her love for the boys with many tears. I can honestly say that I have so much respect for her. She is a great mom, she just couldn’t give the boys the life she wanted. She wanted them to have a family, a family with a dad, a mom, and support system that would love them and nourish them. After about 1/2 an hour of meeting she said, “this is it… this is what I want for my boys, I feel comfortable with this… I feel a comfort I cannot explain, I want this.” I could not believe it, but was beyond excited, words cannot express the joy I had in my heart. All the while still feeling a bit of fear, understanding this will be a huge undertaking, but trusting that God will provide strength. We left to go tell our kids that they would be not just getting 1 baby brother but 3!

That night we went we visited Caleb. He is beautiful. I held him in my arms and literally never wanted to let go. We should get to bring him home either Monday or Tuesday. Sherry will be doing a 24 hour stay at the hospital to learn about some of the medical equipment he needs starting later today. After that we can bring him home. This afternoon.. yesterday afternoon (whatever it is now…) we brought home Cameron and Christian for an “overnight.” They are amazing well-behaved babies, and are absolutely adorable. They have even been asleep all night! I have that new dad… fearful something’s going to happen feeling that wakes me up about every 1/2 an hour (hence writing this at 3 AM), but they are doing great! We will sign quite a bit more paperwork this week and by mid-week they will officially be ours, the court process may take a few months though. We we are now one HUGE family… with a lot of love, a lot of diapers, and a lot of food… So, you may be wondering how you can help… or at least I’m hoping you’re wondering that ;)… well, here it goes:
In numerical order, because I’m a “type-a” computer programmer and I like numbers:

1. PRAY – Pray for a few things: the birth-mom, this will be very tough on her pray that God gives her strength. Also, pray that our sharing of the gospel gives her an interest in Jesus. Pray for strength for Sherry and I, as we both are in the middle of a full semester of school work and for me “normal work.” Another one is that our agency is seeing if they can transfer over the medicaid for the boys. This would be a HUGE answer to prayer, especially with all of Caleb’s needs specifically. Pray for the boys health, and that they too would love Jesus someday. Also, pray our court process finalizes before December 31, it will be extremely helpful to get the adoption credit this year. Last, pray for Madison, Matthew, and Selah, that they would understand what we are doing, that they would love their brothers, and that we (as parents) would not neglect their needs.

2. SUPPORT – We have put in $15,000 of our own money into the adoption process, and we have to come up with about $14,500 more (plus all the things we need to buy for the boys… car-seats, beds, clothes, etc.) in 4 days. That number can seem overwhelming, but I am confident God will provide. I am confident that we will give these boys a home and a family that they need. If you can help us we would be ever so grateful, if not that is totally fine, but please either way pray for this. Trust me this is hard for me to ask for… I have always had a pride issue with people giving me or loaning us money, but I think this is one way God will provide, and am trusting him in that.

3. HELP-OUT – We may need help with the kids in the first few weeks as we adjust. Or just help with “normal things” things around the house… not sure about what we will need at this time, but it we may need something. If there something comes up I can commit to letting you know.
Thanks for reading this mini-novel. I’m going to go check on the boys and their oxygen tanks, it’s probably about time to swap one out.
Love you all and can’t wait for you to meet Christian, Cameron, and Caleb!

Bryan, Sherry, Selah, Matthew, Madison, Christian, Cameron, and Caleb (I guess we need to just start signing things as the “Lopez Family”)

HOW AMAZING is this story??? ISN’T THIS WHAT LIFE IS ALL ABOUT?! Following Him like crazy. Being His hands and feet. Dying to ourselves and living for others instead?! THIS is what life really IS all about!!!

IF any of you would like to be a part of what God is doing in their life, and you feel led to support them as they take on this INCREDIBLE task–please email Bryan at bryanclopezATgmailDOTcom. This family also has an online store you can purchase things from to help them and their orphan ministry at Baby Zoowan. You can click here to see the products and help them out in this way too. Wouldn’t it be INCREDIBLE to spend our LIVES being a part of things like this!!!!! Oh…THIS is what I want to be about!!!!!

And before I drive you all crazy with my 2 cents on football…I was reminded tonight also how I will one day I just MIGHT love the game again;). Of course if my children play–it will be important to me again because I want to support my children and what they do! Tonight, I got the MOST encouraging link from my friend Staci, and I wanted to share it with you all praying for Isaac to share my encouragement with you! Now, as you know he has hypotonia. The author of this article ALSO has a son with hypotonia–and her doctor told her he might not walk because of it…BUT you have to read and see what he is doing!!! You can read the article here! So while the doctors told her that her son might never walk–HE IS NOW playing sports!!! What an encouragement—and we are hoping and believing the SAME THINGS FOR OUR SON!!! What a PRAISE for this mom who was once where we are!!! God is able to do more than doctors predict our children can do!!! There is always HOPE!!!

JUST to make you smile—no post is complete without pictures. I THINK it MAY be time for a haircut!!!!

Okay moms out there with kids that have Ethiopian baby girls and you want their hair to be longer—I have a trick for you;)! I don’t recommend it for boys though…

Looks like we’ll be making our FIRST trip to the barber shop. Time to call Aunt Nisia’s hubby Uncle Rusty for his first visit!!!! Aunt Nisia told us it is a must for ITY to have the barber experience with Uncle Rusty and I agree!!! Richard flipped when he saw those pictures!!! No worries—it’s all calm and back curled up to his head now:). Hope you all had a great weekend!!!

darcee - September 20, 2010 - 12:56 am

…I also ‘tried’ to read this families amazing story to my husband and couldn’t do it either… through the tears and the huge lump in my throat… This thing called life… is not a spectator sport! I believe God wants us to hop off our comfy couch and do something. We will be on our knees praying for this awesome family and we’ll check out Baby Zoowan. Thank you so much for sharing…

Megan - September 20, 2010 - 1:43 am

First of all, not a football fan either…so I don’t think your crazy! =)
Second, AMAZING family thank you SO much for sharing their story!
Third, I love ITY’s hair! Even long it makes me smile!

Kim - September 20, 2010 - 4:50 am

WOW! This is OUR story. Don’t know if you remember … we were headed down the long road to China to adopt our daughter when we got the call about premature twins. One medically fragile. The rest is history. What an honor it will be to pray for this family. Thank you for sharing their story that confirms God’s plans are ALWAYS bigger and better than we could ever imagine!
Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,

julie@Flitterbugs - September 20, 2010 - 8:31 am

Hey Andrea….thank you for this post! My hubby is also not into football….and it wears him out that all men talk about is sports. “Is there nothing more to life?” he always wants to ask!We don’t have a tv, and the first response people always hae is, “well how do you watch football?” A part of me wants to ask, “well how do you spend time with your family or in the word?” (Not that you can’t do both with a tv:) Actually, when we came to watch you and ITY at the airport, it was soooo exciting for my hubs. He spent a whole 3 hours visiting with some great men (like Krisit J’s hubs and Richard) and never once discussed sports. All of the men there wanted to talk about how much they love their wives and kids, orphan and widow care and their love for the Lord. It was great! He came home asking, “what is we Christians got just excited about joining together and praising, prayer and studing the word as we do for a fooball game?” What a day that will be!!!!!

Katy - September 20, 2010 - 8:49 am

I was thinking the EXACT same thing in the middle 102,000 people at the Tennessee football game this weekend… I bet you have also considered how much money each game brings in. What if we paid $60+ to go to church to cheer on Jesus- or thousands for season tickets. Amazing- So good to know that I am not alone in those thoughts.

april - September 20, 2010 - 8:54 am

I loved this post on football! You put it into words so well! I have never gotten it like my husband has and I just love the way you put it, how we need to worship God like how everyone worships football! thanks for this friend! LOVED the adoption story too…WOW!

Staci - September 20, 2010 - 11:01 am

What a story! Much more exciting than any football game – not that I’ve watched any recently! I appreciate you sharing and I will check out the website. What an incredible family – readily responding to the Lord’s leading without doubt or fear. Glad you enjoyed the article… AND, I like Isaac’s hair! 🙂

Dawn - September 20, 2010 - 2:06 pm

Love your analogy with football. I too live in the south….and don’t get into football. I agree with you that I am not against it, but wouldn’t it be wonderful if we all got that excited about church & the body of Christ!!! AMEN!!!

Believing with you for Isaac!!! PRAYING TOO 🙂

LOVE the story about the family- read that on someone else’s blog- how incredible!!!!!!!!!!

Faith - September 21, 2010 - 6:34 pm

You GO girl!! Yesterday football and today animals!! I SO admire your guts to voice your feelings. I feel the same way about these issues but I am not as bold in my faith. You are truely an inspiration.
Thank you!

Christina - September 21, 2010 - 8:14 pm

I’ve wept, rejoiced, and prayed all throughout the reading! Our God is AMAZING!!! Thank you for sharing this testimony!

Allie - September 25, 2010 - 11:44 am

I don’t know you at all. I stumbled on your blog thru a friend, of a friend, of a friend….or something like that. I have been following your journey of adoption and my heart just swells with joy for your family. I too hope one day to adopt. My husband is open but I know their is still some work to be done for him to be ready to take that step.

I loved your post about football. I am a little opposite in my opinion though. I LOVE football and my husband LOVES it even more. (I even play in a fantasy league with mostly men!) I mean we are those crazy people that throw things at the TV:) But this EXACT thought has been on my heart for a long time. I remember being at a game in college standing there just listening to the roar of 80,000 ish people and just for a second wondered, “what if all these people were screaming for Jesus, with this much passion, this much drive, this much emotion?” I remeber tears streaming down my face. I was also at church a few weeks ago and was just looking around during worship at how tired and weary everyone looked. Why do we not pursue our Maker the same way we pursue such wordly things. It really is heartbreaking, even from a LOVER of sports.

Which has made me think even more….I have for a long time thrown around the idea of trying to start some non-profit organiztion for soemthing involving widows/orphans/world hunger…..or something.

What if every person that went to a football game on the weekends gave a dollar per game? Do you know how much money that would be? I have estimated anywhere from 1 million to 3 million dollars….PER GAME. I just don’t even know where to start to get something like this started. Volunteers? Buckets for money collection? Advertising? The legality of it all? Getting the money mailed to the right people?

Do you have any ideas?

But what an awesome way this would be to take something and bring glory back to Jesus!

Heath - September 25, 2010 - 6:26 pm

whats the trick for longer hair???

Mary Cutter Broussard - September 27, 2010 - 10:23 pm

Just finished catching up on your last few posts. I’m SO thrilled for you with regards to Isaac’s crawling accomplishment! I am drying my eyes as I celebrate what God has done by uniting this family with those precious boys. And I too, attended Auburn c/o 2000, and haven’t been to a game since, but LOVE your analogy of passionate pursuit of the worship of God! And, happy to report that we got part 1 of our Pad Project mailing sent to Sarah this afternoon! Love seeing God at work!