Tshirts are here!!!!!

(I am linking to this post on our t-shirts as part of My Crazy Adoption's "Shout Out"!! A few sizes are sold out, but there's still plenty to purchase! To get to know us a bit, check out the links to the right under "A little background on us." To read what's on my heart @ Africa right now, go here. Thanks for stopping by! ((hugs)) )

Our tshirts are in--yahooo!!! You can purchase right here on our blog via paypal!
Before I show them to you, let me tell you about our message. Each of our shirts read:

"Love with abandon, Love an orphan."

We believe we have been given so much love, from the Lord and within our home, that it is overflowing. And we want to live lives that love without restraint, without inhibitions, without safety nets...we want to love with abandon. Because that's how we feel we have been loved by our heavenly Father, "who did not spare His own Son, but...with Him, freely gives us all things." (Rom. 8:32) We want to challenge those who are considering adoption but have held off because of fear, finances, the "right time", whatever....to "just do it"!! Take a leap of faith, and trust the Lord to work it out!

The scripture reference "(Matt. 25:40)" on the shirt is a reminder to all of us, that whether we are called to adopt personally or not, we are ALL called to love the least of these.

LADIES SHIRT:
front
back

The ladies shirt has a tree image with a momma bird and three baby birds, one a different color. The text wraps around the shirt on the bottom.

Alternative women's fitted short sleeve vneck shirt, ultra soft, 3.1 oz., 100% organic Pima cotton. Longer length and tapered waist. Earth Natural color.
(The shirt is fitted, and I recommend ordering a size up.)
Available in S, M, L, and XL. $25


ADULT SHIRT:

Alternative basic crew neck tshirt, lightweight & slightly fitted, 4.1 oz., 100% combed ringspun cotton. Chocolate color. Clear ink imprint.
Available in S, M, L, and XL. $20


KIDS SHIRT:


Anvil short sleeve crew neck youth tshirt, Pre-shrunk 100% combed ringspun cotton, 4.5 oz. Chocolate color (darker brown than adult shirt with a light brown imprint)
Available in XS(4-5), S(6), M(7-8), L(10-12), XL(14-16). $18


GIRLS FITTED SHIRT:

L.AT Sportswear Girls' vintage longer length heathered jersey t-shirt, 50% combed ringspun cotton/50% polyester, 4.0 oz. Clear ink imprint.
Available in S(5-6), M(7-8), L(10). $18



You may order via links to the right. If you have any questions about the shirts, sizing, or ordering, feel free to email me.

Nice to meet you...

For those of you who may be meeting my family for the first time through this blog, I thought I would introduce you briefly to us.

Rachel & Joe

Joe and I have been married for 16 years. We met in Houston, TX at our church. Joe was in the Marine Corps when we married, so we lived briefly in Hawaii (too briefly...) before getting out of the military and heading to seminary in Dallas. Joe has pastored for 12 years, in churches in Nebraska, New Jersey, and now Florida. He is now bivocational, working both as a church planter and also full time as a civilian for the Army Reserves. I am a stay at home mom, homeschool my four kids, serve in ministry, blog, and earn a little income through selling
Tastefully Simple. To read our story about how we were led to plant a church, read here. To read about how we were led to adopt, go to our first post here.

Nathan

Josh
Josh & Nathan are twins and are 12 years old. As cute & innocent as they look here, this is more what they act like:Yeah, they're all boy. Seriously, though, they have wonderful hearts and are growing into godly young men. They love to skateboard and are still trying to convince me that working together to defeat levels on xbox games is "educational".

Hannah
Hannah is 10 (11 on Sept. 21st) and is the "other" mom in the house. She's one smart cookie whose love of reading is only surpassed by her love for horses. She'd clean stalls all day for a chance to ride for 30 minutes. She is becoming a beautiful young lady, full of wit and sensitivity.
Danielle

I have never seen a picture that captures the personality of Danielle like this one. She is 8 (going on 9) and has more energy than the rest of us combined. She always has a smile on her face and is pretty much up for anything, anytime. She shines the joy of the Lord in all she does, and is a constant reminder to us to "carpe diem" and live each moment to the full.

They are sisters and the best of friends.

So that's the Walser family, so far....: )

Prejudice is alive and well (This one is long...sorry)


My family knows that I hate to go to Blockbuster. Too many choices, and I am picky when it comes to movies. If I don’t see something I like right away, I go home empty handed.

So we usually send Joe. He’s more willing to take a chance and try something new. But when he walked in last night with the movie, The Express, with a credit on the back saying it won the “Truly Moving Picture Award”, I have to admit, I gave him a hard time. I shot him a pained expression and said, what is this, a Hallmark movie?? But two hours later, I was no longer complaining. It was a good movie, and touched on a subject currently close to home.

The movie tells the true story of Ernie Davis, the first African-American to win the Heisman trophy. The setting is the late 50’s, early 60’s. Ernie gets recruited to play football for Syracuse University in NY, where he is one of only a few African American players on the team. And not just on the team, but in the school, and not just in that school, but in college in general. He deals with rude looks and sideways glances, not to mention some snide remarks. But it isn’t until the team has to travel south that you really see the odds he had to face during this pivitol time in America’s history.

The movie climaxes his sophomore year, when his team is undefeated and gets the chance to play in a bowl game. And that ends up being the Cotton Bowl, in none other than my home state, Texas, against the Longhorns. (which is where my loyalties end since I’m a Texas Aggie. : ) Anyhoo, I digress…)

I love Texas. I love being from Texas. We have the coolest history (six flags and all), and I have always been proud, wherever I’ve lived, to say I am from Texas.

But last night, I was not proud. Texas and its residents were a caricature of prejudice. First, Davis and the other African American players are not allowed into the main hotel and so must sleep in workers quarters. During the game, Texas fans sneer and yell and throw glass bottles and food as the team come onto the field. At one point, the coach tells the players not to take their helmets off, even if they are on the sidelines, to protect them from the flying debris. The Texas players were unnecessarily brutal towards Davis, and the refs obviously biased. The coach even repeatedly pulled Davis out, right before scoring, so a black man wouldn't score the touchdowns against Texas! He knew it could mean dangerous backlash for both Davis and his team. I understand this is a drama, but I also know it probably was not too far off the truth.

It made me literally sick to my stomach. How could we, as a state, as a nation, as human beings, be so shallow and arrogant and flat out evil? Why did we hate someone so much, just because they were a different color?

It would have been at least somewhat comforting if I could have told myself—but yeah, that was 50 years ago!! We’ve come a long way since then. But I couldn’t. Because just this week I had a relative tell me that if I adopt a black child, it will not really be my child, nor a part of my family.

I don’t think I’m na├»ve. I realize that interracial adoption has its dissenters. I just didn’t expect such hostility. From someone I love.

Was I hurt? More than I thought I could be. Does it change anything? No, not in the slightest. If anything, it strengthens my resolve because apparently there are still people who think race and color should designate separation, be it at water fountains or in families. That two that are different might be able to coexist, but cannot and should not mix. And if the gospel is true, then that is ridiculous.

I think Russell Moore says it best in his book Adopted for Life:

Everyone…, if in Christ, has been transracially adopted. [Those opposed to transracial adoption] are blissfully unaware, it seems, that what’s resting on them is the spirit of the antichrist. They seem not to comprehend that their own devotion to the flesh would disqualify non-Semitic folks like them from the promises of God. If Jesus agreed with them on adoption and race, they’d be in hell.

Moreover, despite what contemporary Christian artwork pictures, Jesus is a middle Eastern, Galilean Jew. The One you call Lord is a person of color, and his axe is already laid to the root of all of our family trees.(Matt. 3:10)


Does that sound harsh to you? To me it sounds true. As much as I love my relative, this part of their heart is ugly to me. And if I’m honest, it reminds me that my heart is dark as well, ugly with sin, undesirable to a holy God, and in need of redemption. Praise God, that in spite of my sinful state, He adopted me as one of His own.

So if Ernie Davis can have the courage to face all he faced (and I don’t even know if he knew the Lord), then certainly I---who "has not been given a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and sound mind"--- can endure.

And if you are reading this, and you struggle with my family’s decision, and also say you know Christ, then I challenge you to search His Word for any indication that your hang-ups have validity. Because we're all mutts. And, like it or not, sisters and brothers. Family.

The "Fun" of Fun-draising!

As I mentioned in my last post, we have a few fundraisers planned in the next few weeks to help us pay for the upfront costs of our adoption. Our goals is to pay for and complete our home study in the next couple of months. Here's the fundraisers as well as suggestions for how YOU can participate with us!!

Fundraiser #1: Garage Sale
Our awesome friends the Hoffmans are hosting a garage sale for us on Sept. 4th & 5th.

If you live locally and would like to donate items to our sale, you can email me and arrange for pick-up or drop-off of items.

If you are not local but would still like to donate items for us to sell on craig's list or ebay, please email me and let me know.

Please pray for good weather and lots of traffic! : )


Fundraiser #2: Tshirts

We are super excited about this one! We personally LOVE the shirts we have designed and think you will, too! As soon as the artwork is finalized, I will post it here. These shirts will be available to purchase on this blog using paypal or by contacting me directly. I am hoping you will want one just because they are cute, but I also hope you will buy one and wear it with pride, shining light on the mission of God's redemption through adoption to those around you.

I will have more details in a few days, so stay tuned.


Fundraiser #3: Online Raffle
We will be raffling off an ipod touch. Tickets will be $5 a piece, or 5 for $20. Tickets will be available for purchase on this blog or by contacting me directly.

If you would be willing to help us sell raffle tickets, we would mail tickets to you to sell to your friends, coworkers and neighbors. It's all for a good cause, and who couldn't use an ipod?! If you are willing to help in this way, please email me and let me know. We are asking that you set a goal to sell 25 tickets. (The person who sells the most tickets will get a FREE tshirt!!) We will send you a packet of info including tickets, flyers/info on our adoption, and a self-addressed stamped envelope to mail your tickets and money back in.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So that's the plan! If you would like to participate in any of these fundraisers with us, please email me and let me know or post a comment below. Thanks!


What are the costs involved and how do we plan to handle them?

The costs are overwhelming to us when we look at them all at once. It's part of what has delayed us so long from doing what we felt called to do. But when I told our friend Erica that I didn't know how we could ever pay for it, she said, "Do you have $100? Can you somehow get together $100? Because that is all you need to apply." And she had a point. One fee at a time. Mini goals. But I do want to be upfront with you about the costs so you know and can be praying for our need.

Here's the approximate timeline and costs:

    • Begin process (0-2 months):
      • Application fee ($100)
      • Agreement fee ($700)
      • Homestudy ($1500)
      • CIS & Fingerprinting ($900)
    • Gathering Paperwork (another month or so)
      • Dossier fee ($3600)
    • wait for a referral (could take up to a year...we hope not)
    • Upon referral:
      • Referral fee ($7200)
      • In country fee ($1035)
    • Adoption trip (3-4 months after referral)
      • travel ($3000)
      • hotel ($150-2000)
      • child's fare home ($350-1500)
    • After adoption expenses ($500)
Grand total? A little over $20,000.

When I first saw the figures, actually, I laughed. It was funny to me. If you know us at all, you know we don't have the money or even the ability to save for these kinds of costs. For crying out loud, my husband is working two jobs as it is and I'm doing all I can to earn a little income and still be able to homeschool the kids! And that's just to pay the bills. So I had a chuckle when I saw the number.

And then I remembered Sarah (Genesis 18). How God had promised Abraham a son and how they were well into their old age, still childless. And when she overheard a man (the Lord) tell her husband that she would give birth within the year, she laughed!

But what stops me dead in my tracks is what happens next. God said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh?" Not---I know, it seems odd. I mean you guys are a little old. Makes sense it would sound crazy--but it's true! You gotta trust me! No, God does not think it is funny. It's so matter of fact---"Why did she laugh?" What is so funny? And then He says (my favorite part....), "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" Like--I created the universe from an idea, spoke it into existence... heck--where do you think you came from?? You think this would be hard to do??

So I repented. Because nothing is to hard for my God.

Everything I have is because He gave it to me. I can truly say this last year of church planting, financially, leaves no doubt in my mind Who my daily provider and sustainer is. He has taken care of all of our needs, and I have no reason NOT to trust Him for tomorrow. And the truth is, if He wants us to adopt, He will provide. It is that simple, at least to us. We have hearts that are willing. A home that is available. And we are willing to take on the physical and financial responsibility of raising another child and taking care of them for at least the next 18+ years. All we need is $20,000. : ) (Not laughing...just smiling...)

Logistically, though, how will it work? Because while we do know God can drop money from the sky (and we're cool if He does) we are committed to working as hard as we can to raise the money. Once we complete our home study, we will be able to apply for grants. Mainly, we will do fundraisers of all shapes and sizes. In fact, stay tuned...our first few are coming up in the next week or so, and we'd love your help! I'll lay out the details in our next post.

Trust with us. Pray with us, that God would provide for this need so that we can provide for this child. We are not saving for a Lexus or planning a trip to the Bahamas. We just want to serve the King, and we're asking Him to make a way. Let's watch together and see how He does it.

(For more on my struggle with the money part, go here.)

Are you adopting a boy or a girl and what age?

We have not designated boy or girl...we are trusting God knows which to give us. We have said we would like to have a child somewhere between the ages of 0-4.

Our kids are full of anticipation and joy! While they may not fully grasp the long process that lies ahead for us, they are fully aware of the costs and sacrifices involved, and are embracing them with unexpected maturity. I am so proud of their hearts for this little orphan who will soon be Walser #7!

Why Ethiopia?

So I’ve received a few questions and thought I’d begin by answering the big one first:

Why international adoption and why Ethiopia?

I have to confess, I almost cheated on this one. I’ve heard and seen wonderful explanations on blogs and websites articulating far better than I ever could the reasons to adopt, to adopt internationally, and to adopt from Ethiopia. Beautiful, eloquent and heart-wrenching. The statistics are staggering when it comes to the need just because of the sheer number of kids who are orphaned & abandoned. I figured, no one would mind if I did a little cut and paste. : ) Because, truly, they are good reasons.

But you didn’t ask why they adopted from Ethiopia. You asked why we are adopting from Ethiopia.

Well, the short answer is, because God said so. But that’s probably not good enough for some of you. : )

As I mentioned before, Joe and I have always been open to adoption, but never felt the Lord give us clear direction or a specific timeline on how to proceed. So we decided to remain open and see how the Lord might lead. Honestly, the whole thing was slightly overwhelming to me as to how to even begin adopting, and with all the other things on our plate, I decided He would have to give us clear direction through a person or agency or association, and we would go from there. I actually thought if we ever did adopt, it would be a domestic adoption—connected to a specific child we met, perhaps while serving a local orphanage.

Instead, God brought us a family. The Shubins moved to Florida from Arizona a month ago (you read that right--we've known them for 4 weeks). Originally moving to Tampa, they changed their rental agreements last minute so they could live in St.Pete and be a part of LifeBridge Church. This is after Dave had attended twice and the rest of the family was still in Arizona! We fell in love with their four kids: Skyler, Nicole, Olivia, and Silas-their youngest, whom they adopted last year from Ethiopia. (Link to Erica's blog here.)

Silas

We heard their story, felt their heart for Ethiopia, and caught their excitement and vision for all that God could do though a small group of people dedicated to loving and serving the people of this country. As a church, we were moved. Another couple, already planning to adopt internationally, decided to adopt from Ethiopia. Our church mission trip, which had been originally planned to Guatemala but had to be canceled, was rescheduled to Ethiopia in January of 2010. And we began paperwork to start an adoption assistance fund & ministry in our church, where we as a church can support families who are feeling called to adopt. In a short amount of time, our church was developing an international arm of ministry to a specific country in specific ways.

And all the while, we felt God moving in Joe and myself. As soon as we met Dave and heard that they had adopted, Joe and I knew it was no accident that they were becoming a part of LifeBridge Church. To have someone who had “been down that road” and had a heart to help others walk that same road, seemed too good to be true.

Let me add something else to the mix. When Joe and I felt called to plant a new work, I thought we’d end up overseas. Our heart had been broken for the poor and we longed to be a part of bringing justice to those who live in abject poverty. We were ready to abandon everything and just go.

But God led us to stay in the U.S. and to plant a church in this country, which is the 5th largest mission field on the planet. Quite frankly, I was bummed at first. It seemed easier to me to go to a country where these trappings and trinkets wouldn’t be there to distract me from my contentment in Jesus and Jesus alone. Where I would be “on mission” every moment instead of getting sucked in to the rat race, and the desire to accumulate things would seem silly and trite. A place where I would always know and tangibly sense…this is not my home…my home is in heaven.

Why did we come to Florida to plant a church? Because God told us to. Despite what we thought, he wanted us here and we know we are in the center of His will.

And why are we adopting from Ethiopia? Because God told us to. I wish I had something more for you to sink your teeth into, but all I can say is, it is our family’s way of loving the world in a tangible way. We will serve in soup kitchens and play with orphans and visit retirement homes right here in this county. But our family will seek social justice for the poor in this world-- as God commands us to-- in a more permanent and sustained way through adoption. We feel God is using us locally. This is how He will use us globally.

It isn’t everyone’s reason. It isn’t everyone’s story. But it’s ours.

Our application was approved!!

Our application has been approved!! We received the call yesterday! 4 days--crazy fast! Yippee! We are through the first round of scrutinization (or so it feels) as we prepare to adopt. The paperwork has just begun, but we embrace it, knowing what joy is to come!

A fun “coincidence”: We received a book in the mail from our denomination, sent to our church P.O.box for Joe. They often send resources as support for Joe as a church planter. Barbara handed it to me last night at Bible study, and guess what the book is?? “Adopted for Life” by Russell Moore! NO way!!! Or rather, of course! The Lord has laid the steps and confirmed our decisions.

Maybe we ARE crazy. Walsers are not known for taking the path of least resistance. Things are perfectly fine the way they are, and one could argue we’ve got enough on our plate as it is. And yet we have chosen this path anyway. We had decided to adopt a child from Ethiopia. Why? I’ll explain the best I can.

A few years ago, Joe and I could not shake the feeling that God was asking more from us than we were willing to give. We felt that we had committed to serving him with our lives, and had been doing so by serving in full time ministry. Ministry has its perks, but it is not an easy road nor is it a money-making scheme. But we had carved out a pretty comfortable and secure life in a place we enjoyed surrounded by people we enjoyed, and we were doing what we enjoyed.

None of that was bad in and of itself. But we both knew that the life we had was one we had orchestrated to be how we wanted it to be, with little room for risk. So we decided to step out and risk it all—plant a church in a state we had never lived in with three friends in tow. So there were five of us. And we knew almost no one. We left our home, our friends, our paycheck…behind. It’s been scary at times and there are still days we don’t know how it will all play out. But there is no doubt in our minds that God called us here.

And He called us here not just for the church, although He does want us to give our lives away for it. And not just for the lost, although we seek daily to be used to reach them. But also for US--for His process in us, our dependence on Him and our daily dying to ourselves.

Which brings me to this decision we have made. It is amazing to me how easy it is for me to slip back into a routine and life where I am comfortable and isolated. It’s like in Isaiah 58 when God says “On the day of fasting, you do as YOU please…” (vs. 3). On the surface, I am offering my sacrifice, but it is still on MY terms and when it is convenient for me. But I do not want to live that way.

I want a life full of risks. I want to live and love with abandon. I want to live like I believe the gospel is true. In fact, I want my life and the decisions I make to only make sense in light of faith. In other words, that I MUST believe in something unseen, some future hope, some invisible kingdom. If my life can be dismissed, my decisions explained by any other reason, then I have failed to be the light and salt I am called to be.

For years, Joe and I have both said we were open to adoption if God ever called us to do so. As John Piper says, adoption is the heart of the gospel and the clearest picture of what God has done for us. And it had become clear to us in the last few weeks, that He is calling our family to be a living example through adoption…so we are obeying.

You may have many questions about the whens and whys and hows of our decision (as do we! : ) ), and I hope to answer some of those with my postings on this blog. (If you have a specific question, feel free to post as a comment.) I invite you to subscribe to email updates in the link to the right, bookmark it, follow it however works best for you---and keep up with us as we embark on this journey.

For now, watch this brief video as John Piper talks about adoption as God’s plan from the beginning…and be encouraged. And please pray for us. We’d be grateful.

(Note: To silence music so you can hear video, scroll down to pink playlist and hit pause button.)