JOURNEY TO ADOPTION
A Love Story
My Spiritual Journey
My childhood was steeped in love from my family and the love of the Lord. I grew up as an only child (although I have two half brothers that did not live with us.) My parents became Christians when I was three so most of my memories as a girl were at church. We were members of a Southern Baptist church until I was 10 and then we joined First Assembly of God. My Dad was an Elder in the church and my Mom was a leader in the women’s ministry. They also had a very successful Bible study at our home every Friday night.
Our weekly schedule began with Sunday school at 8 am, Sunday service at 9:30am until 12:30, then possibly “Dinner on the Grounds” (you southerners would know that that means - pot luck lunch after church). We would head home around 3:00pm, then back to church for the evening service at 6:30pm. Then there was Wednesday night service, Friday night Bible study at our house, Saturday night Youth Group at the church, and then start all over on Sunday! Did I mention I went to a Christian school too?
My parents showered me with love and attention. I grew up memorizing scripture, learning about God and the Bible and was surrounded by other Christians. I am very thankful but the main focus of my relationship with God was ME; me trying to achieve God’s approval. I never felt like I did. As miraculous as my salvation experience was at the age of eight, another experience at the age of 30 truly changed my life. I was introduced to the loving, forgiving Heavenly Father that I knew about, but did not truly know.
One of my very best friends from Youth Group, Stacey, was searching for more of God too. She, like so many of us, was not satisfied with the interpretation of the God that we learned about at church. She was invited to a small group in Orlando called Tree of Life. James Barron was teaching that God is good and He is not mad! He is not even judging us! What? Isn’t that God’s primary mission - to watch Christians and when they make a mistake to leave them and/or punish them? Oh and although scripture says He will “remember your sin no more”, He WILL remember it and punish you later. For instance, if you cannot have children it is because of a sin you committed when you were a teenager.
Oh, I am starting to get ahead of myself and angry because there are SO many teachings in the church today that are contradictory! No wonder so many Christians are confused and so many others don’t want anything to do with God or have convinced themselves there isn’t one.
Stacey took me to hear James speak and at first I felt like he was speaking a different language. It was like I could not comprehend what he was saying and yet I wanted to know more. When he said that God forgave all my sin - past, present and future (in fact all my sin was future for Jesus) my “head” was alarmed but my heart and my soul leapt with joy. When James taught that God would never leave me or forsake me even when I did sin, I was so happy but questioned how could this be? How could 25 years of religious teaching be wrong? But my heart and soul knew that what James was teaching was true. Scripture after scripture, teaching after teaching, confirmed to me the real truth about my loving Savior. He knew me before I was even born (Psalms 139:15). He chose me to be ‘His spokesperson to the world” (Jeremiah 1:5). He died so we could be together. He has done everything that needs to be done, everything. All I have to do is believe Him. How simple is that? That is “Good News”!!!
Marriage and Infertility
My husband, Zemanel and I were married in 1994. He is Portuguese and we met on a cruise ship were he was a waiter and I was a passenger. When we were in our late 20’s we were ready to start a family but little did we know that we would not be able to conceive. We began infertility treatments and the long 11 year journey of highs and lows, hopes and disappointments. For anyone that has experienced infertility, it is hard to describe the intensity of the process. For women, even though we may not be talking about it 24/7, we ARE thinking about it all day every day. I would start each month with anticipation that this would be the month that I would get pregnant. I was injecting fertility medication throughout the day to boost my system. I was also at the doctor’s office at least 10 times a month. Each month my body would not respond to the medication and each month my period would come and bring with it my broken, devastated, disappointed heart. I would cry it all out, call my doctor and we would start again with a new regimen of medicine and maybe another invasive, painful test or two to try and find out what was wrong. Let’s not forget the HUGE check we would write each month for the doctor and the medicine.
During this 132 month journey my belly did not grow but my relationship with Jesus and God my Father grew and grew and grew!
Words of Encouragement
Zemanel and I began going to Calvary Assembly in Winter Park, Florida and found a loving church home there. Pastor Clark Whitten was preaching the same message of Grace that James Barron was teaching and we were immediately drawn to it. In 2001 they had a special service called a Prophetic Presbytery where men that have the gift of prophesy come to the service and they pray and seek the Lord for a message or an encouraging word for the people there. I really wanted to give God the opportunity to speak to me in a human voice I could hear with my human ears. I trusted the leadership in our church and trusted Pastor Clark, so I went to the evening service where the Prophetic team would ask people from the congregation to stand up and they would tell them what the Lord wanted them to know.
At the service, one of the pastors on the prophetic team pointed me out of about 300 people and gave me a message. It was a great message about waiting for God’s timing to be more active in the church. It was an excellent and pertinent message but I was disappointed that it was not related to my infertility. Just as I was sitting down one of the other prophets on the team, Robert Morris, asked me to stand back up. This is what he said:
“There is something else that you need. That is you need a miracle. And the Lord knows that. And you are waiting to hear. God do you know? Have you heard my prayers? And you need a miracle. But you have come to the right place. And you know that deep down. But that’s what you wanted to hear. God still works miracles. And God’s going to give you a miracle. I want to pray for you. Do you believe that God can open the womb? “Lord in Jesus name, I ask you to give her the desire of her heart. In Jesus name, Lord you have the ability, over and over again, I ask you in Jesus name to open her womb. And in Jesus name, I speak conception. In Jesus name. Lord anything that needs to be fixed, fix it! You can. It’s not hard, not for You. And Lord I pray, God, I look forward to her coming to me and saying “Look, Look what God did.” Lord we agree tonight. In Jesus name. Amen.”
As you can imagine my hope sprang up and I began to trust in what appeared to be the Lord’s plan to “open my womb” and make me pregnant. Over the next few years I had one confirmation after another that I would have a child from my womb, so we continued with infertility treatments. We were so full of faith that we decorated the nursery. We painted the walls, customized the furniture and I even sewed the bedding for the crib and cradle, but the years would click by and our circumstances remained the same.
What did not remain the same was our relationship with Jesus. When I could not stand He would hold me up. When my disappointment was too great to take another minute, I would curl up under His strong arms and hide from the world and let Him hold me and heal me. When friends and family would conceive and have children He would hold my heart while I would experience sincere joy for them but severe pain for me and my empty womb and empty arms. During this long season I experienced the true deep love of God. I did not understand what He was doing but I praised Him and trusted Him and was honest with Him. I told Him I was mad at Him and He said He knew and it was OK.
In December of 2005, Zemanel and I went for our first time to Grace Church in Longwood, Florida. During the service Pastor Clark picked me out of the congregation and asked me to stand up and said that he had a message for me from God. Keep in mind that our previous church where Clark Whitten was our pastor had several thousand members and although I am sure he recognized me, he did not know the intimacies of my life’s journey and certainly did not know about my infertility. This is what he said.
“Tiffany, when you walked in and I met you, the Lord started speaking to me, a word for you. And I went and prayed a little bit and this is what the Lord says: “You’ve been asking, you’ve been asking for a word from God; An answer from God, a directive from God. And here is the word that God has for you about this word about this directive, about this answer. The word is YES. YES. The Lord says I CAN and I WILL. He said you can stop asking me. That it’s already done. You can begin to rejoice because it’s already done.
The Lord also comes to encourage you in this way. He comes to say. “This is more than you know. More than you’re experiencing. This is more than just a pat on the back. This is something the Lord is saying to encourage you.” He says: “I love you and you are very precious to me. I want to reassure you that I am in charge. That I AM the sovereign ruler of the universe. That you have a destiny in Me and I will not be stopped. You’ve never said anything to me that I haven’t heard. You’ve never prayed a prayer that I’ve not noted. You’ve never sung a song in worship that hasn’t caught my ear. Your time with me is precious to me.” The Lord says: “Talk to me. The ones who get are the ones who ask.” The ones who are willing to receive are the ones I bless. Talk to me, I’ll answer you again and again and again and again.”
My hope rocketed up!! Yahoo! “It is already done?!?” “I can stop asking?!?”. Well I must be going to get pregnant any minute. I am probably pregnant right now!! YAHOO!!!
PAUSE…Don’t miss the second part of the message. It is a love letter to me. I am crying right now reading how much Jesus loves me and took the time to make sure I know He is truly in charge and truly in love with me.
PLAY… I did not get pregnant. I have never been pregnant. I don’t understand how all of this works but this is when my story really starts to get good!!!
Journey to Adoption
From 2005 to 2008 I continued to pray and explore every medical avenue to motherhood. This is such a personal journey and there is no way around it. You must go through it! Everyone in infertility must analyze each step and decide for themselves what next step works for them and when to stop.
Our stopping point came in the summer of 2008. I had run the course, an 11 year, 132 month, course. It was exhausting. There wasn’t another test to do, another treatment to try and it was truly the end of the medical journey. After I cried and prayed and for the millionth time wondered where my “YES” was, my husband agreed that we could begin looking into adoption. One lazy Saturday morning, Zemanel was on the couch and I got my laptop, piled into bed and began surfing the web. I came across an adoption agency called American Adoptions. As I started to read their website, I was comforted and intrigued by their level of professionalism and thoroughness. In an arena charged with emotion they seemed focused on protecting the child, birthparents and adoptive parents. They had the legal procedure explained as well as each step of the procedure from application to the final court hearing.
I remember printing out some of the information on the website and giving it to Zemanel. After he read it he was concerned that it sounded very “matter of fact” and sterile. Those qualities are what drew me to it. I shared with him that I was so tired of the emotion of it all and just wanted to get to being a mother. We prayed about it and began the uncertain journey into an adoption plan.
American Adoptions said that they would likely be placing a baby in our arms about eight to nine months after our profile went “active.” We would need to submit an application with them along with creating a “profile” of our family, outlining our hopes and plans for our child. In addition, we would need to schedule a social worker to come do a “home study.” All of this information would insure that a child would be safe with us. Each birthmother would look through our profile to see if she wanted her baby to be raised by us. I did not know that it is the birthmother that chooses who the adoptive parents are, not the other way around.
We had all of our required documents into the agency along with our deposit in about three months. I remember that it was right around Thanksgiving because my parents came to visit us for the holidays. My mother would recount later that I said that maybe God would give us our baby for Christmas and she secretly prayed I would not get my hopes too high only to be disappointed again. During this holiday trip I also asked my mom to help me put the finishing touches on the nursery. All it needed was the pictures to be hung. Although I did not let myself buy any clothes, diapers or personal items at this point. We did spend the last five years customizing the furniture - we hand painted the baby bed, changing table and the bookshelf. I sewed the bedding for the crib and the cradle. We laid a new floor and a hundred other little touches to bring the beach to life in this colorful haven for our new baby we were sure was coming one way or the other.
The Call That Changed Everything
On December 7, 2008 our profile went active with our adoption agency. Our profile was posted on their website and we were officially in the queue to be chosen as parents. We were the last family on the website - 176th! Eleven days later on December 18th at 4:30pm my phone rang and Zemanel answered it. He came to find me and said it was a social worker with American Adoptions.
We put her on speaker and in the next few minutes our lives hit warp speed!! She said that there was a baby being born that night and we needed to be prepared to go the next day. The birthmother had not fully decided to go with an adoption plan but she was close. The social worker said that she would call us the next morning around 10am and let us know for sure but we needed to be ready to get on a plane. She tried to temper us with the reality that the birthmother may decide to keep the baby but we so excited there was no containing us!
She also said that the birthfather had brown hair and brown eyes and was from the Mediterranean. When she was describing the birthmother she said that she had brown curly hair, brown eyes, height of 5’8” and she was 38 years old. To our delight and surprise these descriptions also portray Zemanel and I almost exactly! God is so good.
When we hung up the phone we were so happy and shocked and excited. There was electricity in the room! I think it was the Holy Spirit jumping up and down with us! The typical structure is that the birthmother chooses you months before the baby is born and during this time she will interview you and then you prepare for the baby to come. Plus in our minds we were expecting eight to nine months of waiting. Our call came in eleven days. I figured out later that we had 11 years of infertility and then God gave us our baby in 11 days.
Zemanel got on the internet to look for airline tickets and I called my parents and a few friends. Everyone was in joyful shock but certainly no more than we were. We were in the middle of a miracle!!! In my professional life I am a Real Estate Broker and administrator. I am all about the details of office life and “Queen of the List.” I knew I needed to go to the store and get some things for the baby. I grabbed a piece of paper and a pen and managed to write at the top of my list “diapers.” I could not think of anything else! My mind was a tornado of joy and emotion - diapers, that was it!
I thank God for my beautiful friend Melissa who is an adoptive mom too. She had been a close friend and prayer partner and I called to tell her the news. She was so happy for us and thankfully took charge of the “list.” We met in town at the store and after we embraced and cried for a while we hit the baby department. We did not know if the baby was a boy or girl so we decide to buy everything in yellow and green. As I kept putting cute clothes and stuffed animals in the basket she would make sure I was getting diaper cream, pacifiers and other essentials. I had not let myself even venture into the baby departments for all of these years. I cannot tell you how happy I was to walk those rows and be able to buy all these darling things for my baby.
I don’t know that we slept that night. We were just praying, crying and waiting for the phone to ring. It did ring! The birthmother had decided to let us adopt her baby. The social worker asked if we wanted to know if it was a boy or a girl and we said YES! A girl!!! A girl!!! More crying and praying!!! As Zemanel hopped on the internet to buy our airline tickets, I ran back to the store to buy her everything in PINK!!
We had two hours to get to the airport and as we are running to the car I ripped the front cover off of a baby name book that I had had for 10 years with our favorite names written on it. I also had another baby name book with the meanings that I stuffed into my purse.
I have to do a quick flash back to the Thanksgiving holiday that just passed when my parents came over. Part of the adoption process when you adopt a baby from another state is that you must be prepared to stay in the state where the baby is born for up to three weeks. The paperwork has to go to the state where you live and then back to the state where the baby is before you can bring the baby across the state lines. At Thanksgiving I was daydreaming about this part of the process and my mom and I started naming the states where we had family and friends. We made a mental hierarchy of what states would be best for the baby to be born in even though most of the people we named we would not have been able to call them to invite ourselves to stay with them for 3 weeks. It was a fun game though and we came up with about 30 states. Florida was first because that is where we live, Louisiana second because that is were my parents live and third was Indiana! Not only do we have family there, but it is close family with a HUGE house. I was able to call them and ask if we could come and stay with them and they even had room for my parents to come and stay too. God had every detail covered. He always does.
OK, back to the story…
We get on the plane and pull out our baby name list and immediately are drawn to the name Isabella. We liked it beacuse was my maternal grandmother’s name plus it has cute nicknames like Izzy, Izza, Bella, Bell. It also translates into English for my family and Portuguese for Zemanel’s family. Next we opened the baby name book and read the meaning: “Consecrated to God!!!” It was the perfect name for her!!! More crying and praying!
We arrived in Indianapolis Friday late afternoon to rent our car and needed to drive what is normally an hour and a half drive to northern Indiana to a little town called Crown Point. (Even the name of Izzy’s birth city rings with the majesty of Jesus Christ, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords!) It was one week before Christmas and the state was white with snow and ice. We drove for a few hours into the evening but we were exhausted and had to stop and get a hotel and sleep. What a wonderful, long day!
The next morning we woke up early and continued the cautious snowy drive to the hospital. We made our way to the nursery on the 7th floor at 8am. To our dismay they showed us to the waiting room. More waiting! It was Saturday now and the hospital did not have the paperwork they needed to let us see our baby. We could not believe that we were right down the hall from our miricle baby and we could not meet her.
While we were waiting, our social worker called and the birthmother wanted to meet us at a local restaurant with her best friend. She and the birthfather had already signed all the documents relinquishing their parental rights but we were a little bit nervous about meeting them and it turned out that they were too.
It was about 10am now and a nurse arrived to the waiting room. She said that they did not have permission for us to hold her yet but they were sneaking us to the glass so we could see her! We were so excited we practically ran to the window and one of the nurses was rolling her up close in her bassinet. The first sight of our daughter was of her crying so loud her face was red. We watched as the nurse tenderly changed her clothes, swaddled her up tight and gave her a pacifier to comfort her.
It was a moment that I can’t seem to describe. She was so small and perfect and we were hopelessly in love with her. We took pictures of each other next to the glass. This was really happening. I was looking at my baby! The awe of God’s miraculous work was flooding over us!
Meeting Isabella's Birthmother
At 11am we left for the restaurant. As we walked in and met Izzy’s birthmother, and her best friend, we all knew right away that we were in God’s loving care and right in the middle of His plan. As Izzy’s birthmother began to tell her story I had to ask her if I could take notes because our similarities and God’s unfolding of our lives were so amazing I did not want to miss a thing and wanted to be able to share every detail with Izzy as a witness to God’s marvelous plan for her and for us.
Izzy’s birthmother shared with us that she had been with Isabella’s birthfather, for 18 years, although they had never married. Isabella had two full siblings, eight and six years old. She recounted how she did not know that she was pregnant. That she had had her regular cycle all these months and had gone to the doctor only two weeks ago for back pain when he told her she was 8 ½ months pregnant! This all happened as the US economy was taking a nosedive and they could not afford to have a third child. She asked her lifelong friend, to help her investigate and make an adoption plan. They came across American Adoptions on the Internet much like we did and they were immediately drawn to our profile. Her friend works in Real Estate and so she liked that we did too. Izzy’s birthmother grew up in a Christian home and although she had gotten away from a regular church routine she really wanted her baby to grow up in a Christian home and our profile was filled with Jesus and how important our relationship with Him is to us.
Typically when a birthmother contacts American Adoptions they will send her the profile of about ten potential parents for her to choose from. In our case, Izzy’s birthmother called them and just wanted us! She asked if we were still available and American Adoptions said “yes.” The funny thing is that when they sent out her packet, American Adoptions just sent out their standard ten profiles and ours was not even in the bunch!!! She called back right way and explained that she REALLY wanted us and that she did not need to look at any other profiles. American Adoptions of course apologized for the mix up and called us right away. Our match was made!!
Izzy’s birthmother told us that day that she felt God’s hand in our meeting. She said that because she did not know she was pregnant and because her labor pain and childbirth felt like a “mosquito bite”, that she had not bonded with the baby. She sincerely felt like the baby was truly ours and that God had used her to give us a child. I can’t tell you how overwhelming this is. How loved I feel even to this very moment. What a divine orchestra our loving Father conducted for us!
While we were at lunch the attorney handling all of the paperwork was shocked that the hospital did not have what they needed to let us hold our baby. He jumped in his car and hand delivered the documents! We took a couple of pictures with Izzy’s birthmother and her friend. We hugged and cried a mixture of joyful and painful tears then Zemanel and I took off for the hospital.
The nurses had put a rocking chair and in the corner of the nursery so we could have a little privacy and ushered us in to meet our darling baby girl. What a glorious moment. She was warm and soft and so tiny. I can close my eyes and just breathe her in! Oh what joy we experienced in that moment!
There were so many little nuances that the Lord included in our adoption story! Here are a few. Izzy’s birthmother elected not to see Izzy when she was born because she thought it would make her heart ache worse as she prepared to give her to us. So the nurses and even some of the ladies from the administration office at the hospital would come and hold her extra. She was born on Thursday night at 11pm and we could not get to her until Saturday at 1pm. It was a requirement of the hospital to put a name on each bassinet and since the nurses did not have her name yet, one of the nurses called her husband who speaks Portuguese and she asked him what a good name would be for a baby girl born so close to Christmas. There was no way for her to know that Zemanel’s first language is Portuguese. Her husband suggested “Christiana” and she put it on her bassinet. What a perfect name to give her until we could arrive. Christ was everywhere and in every piece of our story.
One of the most profound revelations was when we found out that Izzy’s birthmother did not know she was pregnant. The Lord was hiding Izzy in secret for us. Only God knew she existed for 8 ½ months. Many years ago as I really started to understand how much God loved me, it was the Bible passage of Psalm 139 that revealed the depths of how much God knew me and wanted me. During my infertility I held on to these promises like a life raft. Now, looking at this scripture with my hidden Izzy in mind, it is too amazing to realize that she was “being formed in utter seclusion” safe in His care until He delivered her to me!
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit them together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! It is amazing to think about. Your workmanship is marvelous – and how well I know it. You were there while I was being formed in utter seclusion! You saw me before I was born and scheduled each day of my life before I began to breathe. Every day was recorded in you Book.”
It did not matter at all that she was not born of my body. She was the Lord’s child that He was putting in my care. What an awesome honor. As Mary and Joseph were chosen to take care of Jesus, Zemanel and I were chosen to take care of Isabella. What an amazing thought!
Isabella is 3 ½ now and every moment as her parents has been as awesome as her birth story. She has filled and overflowed the big hole we had in our hearts with so much love I could never have imagined just how good being her Momma was going to be!! God my Father gave me “beauty for ashes, joy for mourning and a garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
In January of 2012 the father of my dear friend, Stacey, went to be with the Lord. I had driven to Louisiana with one of my business partners, Scott, to go to the funeral while he went to work in a nearby city. For about a month I had wanted to write a children’s book but did not have an idea or a subject matter. I remember praying a simple prayer, “ Jesus, I would like to write a children’s book. Will you help me?” Within 48 hours, on the ride home to Florida, I had an idea: Big Good God & Little Busy Izzy. We have always called Isabella, Busy Izzy and joke that she only has two speeds, High and Off.
Scott was driving and I pulled out a piece of paper and began to write. The whole story came right out and I knew it was the Lord answering my prayer and giving me an opportunity to explain Him in a simple way that Izzy and other little children could understand. The whole manuscript was written in about 45 minutes and Jesus gave me Psalm 139 as the basis for the text. It was a perfect idea! He is like that! Perfect! I read the story to Scott and he said “Tiff, that is pretty good!”
I also had a picture in my head for the design of the main character, Busy Izzy. I did not have to go far for my inspiration. Skinny as a rail, a head full of curly blonde hair and a smile that can stop traffic! That’s my girl! I pulled out a piece of scratch paper and did a rough sketch.
The next morning at home, I was up early on the couch praying over the manuscript and I had the sketch next to me. When my Izzy woke up she bounced out to see me and saw the drawing. She exclaimed with a big smile, “That’s me!” It sure did seem like I was on the right track so I just kept moving forward. I did some editing and drew a more complete version of Busy Izzy and took them to my Women's Bible study friends to see what they thought. I kept telling the Lord that if this was the stopping point I was completely satisfied that Izzy and I had this special story to share together but if He had a bigger plan I would keep going through the doors He wanted to open. Well, my friends were totally impressed! I made them promise that they were being honest and they insisted that I pursue publication.
I found out during my research for publication that the Illustrator can be very costly and also the Author and the Illustrator share the royalties. It short, the price tag seemed out of my reach. Just when I was ready to give up, I discovered a publisher, Xlibris, that offered a package that included the illustrations, publishing and some marketing for $1,657. This amount, although so much better, was still a very big number to execute. My husband and I prayed about how much we could spend and then I talked to my friends again about stopping and they said absolutely NOT and encouraged me to try and raise the additional funds. I asked about 15 friends and family if they wanted to contribute to this project and miraculously when the last check came in the total raised was $1,660! Three dollars more than the cost!
The Lord continued to open the doors and I continued to walk through them. During the publishing process the illustrators at Xlibris really relied on me to tell them exactly what each illustration would look like; whether the scene was inside or outside and the colors, really every detail. I could not be more pleased with the finished book.
Now that the book has been published, I have been praying about what direction to take and how much time to spend on the marketing. I cannot tell you how many friends have stepped in to offer their talents to market the book.
Leah is in film school. She and her team just won the Audience Choice Award at the Enzian Film Festival in Orlando. She made an inspiring short promotional video for the book. This film is on our website, Facebook, and YouTube. It will also be used at churches or other venues where we may have a book signing sale. Another longtime friend, Tom, whose profession is computer programing, built my website www.BigGoodGodandLittleBusyIzzy.com . My women’s bible study has been my biggest supporters. My friend Judi who has a background in theater, helped prepare me for the video and since she has such a big heart for this project has really stepped in to become a partner and manager. Lesley, whose resume includes Vice President at Orange Lake Resorts and Senior Director at Hilton, is also a professional grant writer, and has offered to write a grant for us to raise money for my dream project of being able to give away as many books as possible to children all over the world. My journalist friend, Kirk, helped me write and edit our adoption profile. Two other writers in my circle of friends, Lois and Stefanie, contributed ideas and edits for the book and the other promotional documents.
There are so many people that contributed their finances, time and encouragement. The book truly is authored from the hearts of all of these precious friends.
My publisher is selling my book on their website for $15.99. Even though that is the industry standard for a book my size and quality, it seemed a little steep when our purpose is to get this message to as many children as possible. I am so proud that Jesus figured out how to sell it for $10.99 on my website and $10 in person. He also showed me that with these figures we can put the proceeds towards giving the books to children that cannot buy one. Although we are not set up as a charity or non-profit just yet, all of the money goes to give free books!
The "Just Give It!" Project
Judi was a missionary in Africa for two years and has a heart to help people that don’t know the Lord and has knowledge of how this sort of charity work operates. She has been an invaluable colleague to structure and streamline our project. Judi came across a group of 51 children and their mothers who are in an assistance program called the Women’s Residential and Counseling Center in Orlando. She came to me and said that she was fantasizing about how she would love for each of these children to have one of my books. I was thrilled that the Lord put this group right in our path for our first “Just Give It!” project. It is a small enough group that between Zemanel, Judi & myself we can fund it and execute it on our own. So our plan was set into motion… I ordered more books from my publisher and Judi contacted the person at her job who is the liaison between the women’s group and her office to get permission. Judi’s works for a very big cooperation and we were not sure that they would approve our request since we were giving away a Christian book.
Gift Packs and Free Bibles
While we were waiting for a response from her corporation, we had an additional idea to make a gift pack that would include my book for the child and a Bible for the mother. We were thinking about how to wrap it and headed to the dollar store to see if they had a Bible. They did, but it was a King James Version and we really wanted a reader friendly version since we were trying to reach out to people that might not be familiar with scripture. Judi’s church, Mosaic Church in Oakland Florida, has a Bible on every seat during services and always encourages anyone who needs a Bible to take one. Judi remembered this directive and said she would pass by and see if she could grab one of theirs for our sample. She could not have been at the church for five minutes when she called and said that they gave her 30 brand new Bibles! There goes God opening the door again and letting us know loud and clear that we are heading in the direction He has in mind.
It turns out that there were 52 mothers, 29 children under 7 and 31 children between 8 and 14 at the shelter. Mosaic church donated all the Bibles, we donated Big Good God and Little Busy Izzy – ALWAYS, and we found a Grace filled book, Promisedland, that we purchased and donated for the older children . I think about how God chose them to get these gifts! How loving that is. How He is thinking about them and is using us to pour His love on them. He is so, so good.
Judi was able to get the names of each child and mother so we personally inscribed and signed a book for each child and personally addressed a Bible to every mother. I cannot tell you how happy I am! How thankful that God is using me to impact people for Him. Did I say how Big & Good God is? It is the title of my book! It is the title of my life!!!
If you don’t know Him, don’t worry He knows you and loves you! Take a minute and turn you mind towards Him and just tell Him you believe in Him. That is all there is to it! He has done all the work to make a way for you and Him to be together. He just asks us to believe and then spend some time with Him. He just wants to be with you! I know it sounds too good to be, that the Great Creator of the Universe wants to be with you! It is what He wants more than anything else, YOU! Not for you to do tasks or be His Christian slave or to rule over you. He just wants to be with you and to love you; to walk with you in this life and to spend eternity with you in heaven.
Please go to these websites to investigate Him further: James Barron’s www.SeeingGrace.com who first told me the truth about God’s amazing Grace, my home church’s website, www.GraceChurchOrlando.org and my Dad’s church www.NewBeginingsChurch.net.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made! Psalms 139:14