We’re Getting Three Housemates!

When we moved to the east bay last summer and bought a house, we purchased a four bedroom home because our plan is to eventually adopt as many children as God gives us capacity for. As we searched for homes, we decided it wise to purchase a bigger home now, in order to provide for these children down the road while housing prices and interest rates are so low. However, with just the three of us right now, we are only using two of the four bedrooms.

Since moving in, I have entertained the idea of using our downstairs bedroom to provide housing to someone in need once we set the room up. It just seems to me a colossal waste (and selfish hoarding), to have two empty bedrooms while there are so many who are homeless (particularly in this economy). We finally finished our guest room in July, but the summer had been a busy one and I put my hopes to use the room to bless someone on the back burner. Then on August 4th, I saw a status update in my facebook news feed that caught my eye. It was written by a woman who I met while Sean and I were raising funds to be missionaries with Campus Crusade for Christ (and who faithfully supported us while we were on staff with the organization). It read:

Hey I woudn’t have made it if it weren’t for someone who stepped out of their “nice little life” and brought me and my daughter in during a very bad time in my life. Think about it……. God saves but He uses His people to help other people. I will always be grateful to Alan and Danette Lauer who opened their house to me, a lost, broken up drug addict in the 70’s. Did they know what they were doing? NO… But did they trust God? YES AND I AM SO GRATEFUL!

I read the post over and over and couldn’t stop tears from welling up in my eyes. What a powerful testimony! I don’t even know this woman well personally, but I do know she is an amazing woman of God and has an incredible, thriving prison ministry that is impacting numerous inmates’ lives. I just kept thinking: “I want us to be them. I want us to be Alan and Danette Lauer. We have no idea what we’re doing either, but I want to trust God like that.”

I couldn’t stop thinking about her post for the rest of August, so during our 5 year anniversary get-away over labor day weekend, I brought it up to Sean. I read him her post and my desire for us to open up our downstairs bedroom to someone in need. He readily agreed, so we added “contact our church to see if they know anyone in need who could use our downstairs bedroom for free to bless them (single mom, a young girl who recently aged out of the foster care system, missionaries, etc.)” to our list of actions we wanted to take immediately.

When we returned from the trip, I emailed the local missions director at our church to ask her if she knew of anyone. Within a couple of days, I received a response that she indeed knew of a single mother of four who was currently pregnant with twins and living in a motel. She said she has known this family for quite some time and believes this is the turning point for this young woman. She also informed me that her children were being placed with a “safe family” (a family that agrees to take care of children for a short period of time during a crisis situation). After receiving her email, we set up a time to meet this last Thursday (9/20) to discuss this young woman’s situation further.

At the meeting, I quickly received a curve ball and was told she had delivered the twin boys via emergency c section at 35 weeks gestation the day earlier. During the meeting, I just kept thinking: “I can’t imagine having just had a major surgery, two newborn babies, no home to call my own, and no help from a spouse.” I came home and told Sean all about the meeting, we prayed together, and determined this is something God is calling us to do. So tonight this young woman will be coming to stay with us, and her twins (who are one week old today), will soon follow when they get released from the NICU. Talk about a madhouse! 🙂 Right now, our commitment is to provide housing for her, help her care for her twins, assist her in securing longer-term housing, and enable her to attend an addict recovery program during the next 5-6 weeks.

This may just be the craziest thing we’ve ever done (or at least right up there), and while I’m apprehensive about the unknown and selfishly grieving all the sacrifices we’ll have to make, I am thrilled by this opportunity to lay down my life (John 15:13), and to deny myself and take up my cross to follow Jesus (Luke 9:23). 1 John 3:16-18 states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.  If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

Even if this young woman’s life remains unchanged by this experience, I know our lives will forever be changed (and I hope this will be the first of many more opportunities like this to come). Though this experience will be difficult, I’m sure, I am excited for my character to be refined and molded more and more into the likeness of Jesus. “At the end of life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how many great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat, I was naked and you clothed me. I was homeless, and you took me in.’” -Mother Teresa

Please be praying for all six of us during this time, we will need it!! But hey…good thing God won’t give us more than we can handle right!? Haha! 😉 But seriously, this will be a great opportunity to put into practice what I recently blogged about. Isn’t it funny how God does that?? Maybe I should be more careful what I blog about in the future, because it seems He likes to test me on my subject matter soon after posting to see if I really understand 🙂

Isaiah’s Story: A Beautiful Rescue

This is the first of many, many posts to come on the subject of adoption. Adoption is easily in my top ten favorite topics to think and talk about. It hasn’t always been that way – in fact, adoption wasn’t even on my radar until I was 23 years old. Until that point, adoption was a foreign concept to me. I have never been close with anyone who was adopted and it wasn’t (and isn’t) something I have heard many people talk about. Growing up, the only time that word ever appeared in my vocabulary was to tease my sisters that they had been adopted into the family.

Then I met Donna. Donna has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever known. She cares for people deeply and has a special heart for those who have been marginalized in society. At the time we met, we were both in a master’s program for social work and we quickly bonded over that. In the process of developing a friendship with her, I soon discovered her heart for adoption and thus began an ongoing dialogue between us on the subject.

As I listened to her perspectives and experienced her passion for adoption, my heart quickly caught fire. I began praying about it, meditating on the subject, researching it (both theologically and practically), and discussing it in great depth with Sean. Sean’s heart caught fire just as quickly as mine, and we readily agreed at age 23/24 (one year after we got married) that the Lord was calling us to adopt children at some point. We are not there yet, but we are very excited for when that time comes and plan to adopt as many children as God allows/gives us capacity for.

I’ll go into the details as to the reasons why we want to adopt in future posts; my goal here is to simply introduce the topic and relay how zealous I am about it. In fact, I can’t hear a single person even mention the word ‘adoption’ without starting to tear up – it’s become that evocative. Speaking of emotional impact, I highly encourage you to watch the short video below about a little boy named Isaiah. I’ve seen this video countless times and I still cry (and then get a huge smile) every time I see it. If this video doesn’t make you weep, tear up, or at least make you manly men have a small allergic reaction to your feelings…there is probably something wrong with you. Lol! Just kidding, but I do hope that it will strike a chord in your heart as well, and no matter what stage of life you’re in, I pray that it might even be the first seed that opens your mind to the idea of being a part of God’s work through the ministry of adoption.

The Story of Ian and Larissa

Wow, such a powerful story. After watching the video, I suggest reading Larissa’s blog post entitled “Why We Got Married,” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/why-we-got-married

A Culture of Isolation?

Two weekends ago we made Christmas cookies for our neighbs. That’s neighbors in Santa Barbara language. By the way – complete tangent – I JUST discovered that the term “the hood” comes from the word neighborhood…my annoying habit of shortening words led me to this eye-opening revelation. Genius! Oh also, did you know that the medicine “tums” is the baby talk way of saying tummy? Just discovered that one too.

Refocusing. We really desire to build relationships with our neighbors because we think it’s important to find ways to be a blessing to those around us. We thought cookies would accomplish that plus be a great way to introduce ourselves in our new neighborhood (we just bought a house and moved in in September). As we were passing out the cookies, it became clear that none of them knew each other (or just barely). They were all friendly to us, but we were dumbfounded that some of these people have been here for 18 years and don’t know any of their neighbors. Sean and I both knew our neighbors growing up…we were even close enough with some of them to invite them to our wedding. It also seems to stand in stark contrast to stories I’ve heard our elders tell of neighborhood camaraderie and ready willingness to lend a hand (particularly in hard times). In fact, the dictionary literally defines neighbor as “a person who shows kindliness or helpfulness towards his or her fellow humans.”

I’m not saying I’m immune…my first thought when we run out of eggs is “aw crap, we have to run to the store,” and never “hey we should go ask our neighbor if we can have an egg.” And I’ll be honest, most of the time I don’t even answer our door when someone knocks because I just assume it’s UPS dropping off a box or a solicitor. Anyways, I don’t really have anything profound to say…I just think it’s interesting and the whole cookie experience made me think. My hope is that over time we will be able to build relationships with our neighbors and love on them however we can – cookies, bbq’s, practical helpfulness, etc. Perhaps we will be able to change the culture of isolation in our hood to a culture of connection. I think it’s pretty important since after all, Jesus told us to love our neighbor and we might as well start with those physically close! 🙂

I’d love to hear your thoughts/ideas on the subject. Why do you think people have become more isolated from even those they live right next to? Do you have relationships with your neighbors? How do you cultivate those relationships? How have you blessed them?

Jesus Came Out a Birth Canal Too

Unfortunately I haven’t found many videos on Christ’s birth that do it much justice, but I think this is one video that does a good job and I like that it is creative and uses poetry to get the message across.

Many people think of Christ’s birth as this lovely, peaceful, purely joyous event, when in actuality, it was not. It’s funny how we tend to romanticize Jesus’ birth when in fact there were few, if any, “romantic” things about it. For starters, even people 2,000 years ago knew how babies were made; a virgin birth was no more believable then than it would be now. In other words, the world’s first impression of Jesus was that he was an illegitimate child and his mother was promiscuous and crazy. When it came time for Jesus’ birth, Mary had to travel many miles over rough terrain, and had the joy of giving birth most likely in a cave (not a stable) with lots of dirty animals looking on (imagine feces everywhere). This would be somewhat comparable to giving birth on the floor of a public restroom. Also, if you are a woman and have given birth, I think we can all agree that there is nothing peaceful about birthing a child (amazing yes, peaceful no). It is incredibly tiring, painful, and fairly gross, and fortunately I got to ride in a car to the hospital and give birth on a nice bed. Also I’m pretty sure that Jesus cried just like every other baby…I hate the line in “Away in a Manger” that says “no crying he makes.” Yeah, right…Mary wishes.

Then the “big” announcement made about the son of God’s arrival was given to teenage shepherds, a profession that was not highly regarded (think minimum wage fast food workers). Jesus also came from the town of Nazareth which was considered the armpit of the Jewish world (think Bakersfield, no offense)…there is actually a saying in the Bible that Jewish people of the time used that said “can anything good come from Nazareth?” Not to mention the fact that Jesus’ lineage included prostitutes, murderers, and other outcasts. I could go on, but I think the pattern is becoming obvious. Jesus did not come into this world in the elegant and glorious way one would think God would. He did not come in riches and fame, but in the face of adversity and in the most humble (and almost humorous) of ways, as a helpless baby.

This is how God chose to enter our world. God did this intentionally, and this is why I think it is dangerous when we begin romanticizing the Christmas story. He didn’t want us to see him as we would a human ruler or authority figure that is untouchable, distant, elite, and doesn’t care about the “common people.” “[Jesus] though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” Phil 2:6-7

Why did he do it? Because he loves us that much. He loves us so much that He was willing to do whatever it would take to get down on our level and reach us where we are at. What an amazing God.

Let’s fall on our knees and worship the King Baby Jesus!

A Good Reminder

Many people have already seen this video at this point, but I think it’s a great video to watch every year as a reminder to remember what Christmas is really about and to get us thinking about others rather than ourselves.

Oh and I know I’ve abandoned this blog for a long time but I really miss and enjoy blogging and am going to start posting again! 🙂

My sister’s going to Haiti!

My older sister Sharon is going to help out with the disaster relief effort in Haiti and I couldn’t be more proud of her/excited for her trip! She will be traveling with a team of friends from her church from May 14th – 22nd to the neighborhood of La Saline in Port-au-Prince to complete clean-up and construction projects for the Kingdom Kids Orphanage, which was damaged during the recent earthquake. They will be helping the local community by passing out rice to the neighborhood residents, cooking a huge meal for the community, and teaching the children lessons and art projects (they haven’t been in school since the earthquake)! They will also bring supplies such as children’s vitamins, antibiotic creams, and toothpaste to donate to the orphanage.

Haiti is one of the world’s poorest and least developed countries, with over 80% of the residents living in poverty. The recent earthquake further increased the suffering in this country, with some estimates showing that 3 million people need humanitarian relief, including food assistance. The Kingdom Kids Orphanage was started a few years ago when several babies were dropped off at the house of Pastor Rigaud. They now have 35 children ranging in age from 2 months to 20 years (see pictures below), some of whom are from families who can’t afford to feed their own children.

In order to make this trip possible, Sharon needs your help! Her total need is $1500, which covers room and board, food, and transportation costs to Haiti. If you haven’t had the chance to give to Haiti yet (or just want to give more), please consider joining her in prayer and financial support. Gifts of $50, $100, $200 or whatever you are led to give will go a long way toward helping her meet this need. Any additional money raised will go towards purchasing supplies to donate to the orphanage. I know that many of you are unable to personally go to Haiti and help in this way, so this is a great way you can participate in rebuilding this impoverished nation!

If you would like to help her, simply click on the link below and you can donate with credit or debit card via Paypal:


Or you can write a check to her personally with the word “Haiti” in the memo line and mail it to:

Sharon Jotblad
1541 Oxford St. Apt. 401
Berkeley, CA 94709

You can give her a call at 310-562-0749 or email her at sharon.jotblad@gmail.com if you have any questions. I’ll post an update from her when she gets back!

Me and Sharon at my wedding