Can God Be for Me While His Hand Works Against Me?

Can God be for me while his hand works against me?

Photo by: The Archibald ProjectThis is the question I found myself wrestling with during the latter half of last year. I started from what I know to be true: God is for me. This much I knew for sure. But on the other hand, there was something else that I knew with certainty: God had called me to adopt this little girl from Africa. We had been pursuing this adoption for over a year and half and it seemed and we had run into nothing but roadblocks and frustrations. At first I blamed each setback on The Enemy. “Satan hates adoption.” I told myself. “He’s trying to distract me with sideways energy.”

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“Fight for Her” – The FULL Story

My original post was intended as a public letter to my church where I serve on staff. The intent was to get the word out to our church family as quickly as possible and as concisely as possible.  Our story however, continues to spread. We did not anticipate that God would use our story to bless and encourage so many people. We knew that God was telling a story. Now we know that he wants that story told. So, here’s the full story, the story of our adoption.

In reality, the journey to bring Chloe Laiti into our family began 12 years ago when I first proposed to my wife in Uganda, forever tying our hearts to Uganda and it’s people. Truth be told, there was a part of me that always knew a little Ugandan child would be a part of our family. Nevertheless, the more tangible parts of our journey began in October 2010 when Kelly and I were back in Uganda on a mission trip. God began moving in our hearts and we weren’t exactly sure what he was doing, but we knew our lives would never be the same. Continue reading

“Fight for Her”

So many of you have asked so many questions about what has happened and what is currently going on with our adoption. The goal of this letter is to give you a brief summary of the events that have transpired which have brought us to where we are now and what lies ahead.

In December of 2010 my wife Kelly and I began the process of adopting a little girl from the babies home that Journey sponsors in Uganda, Africa.

Our first Ugandan court date was scheduled for November of 2011. It was subsequently cancelled and rescheduled for April 2012. After our court date in April, we were awarded guardianship of Chloe and immediately began the process of immigrating her to the US.

In June of 2012, the US Embassy in Uganda denied our request for a visa saying that our case was “not clearly approvable.” They sent our case to the US Citizenship and Immigrations Services field office in Nairobi, Kenya. It was during this process that we fully anticipated being granted our visa. However, after several months, we were sent a request for more evidence. With the help of an attorney, Kelly traveled back to Uganda to collect the information they required. Nevertheless, in October the USCIS informed us of their intent to finally deny Chloe a visa, giving us 1 more month to change their minds. We hired a new attorney to fight for us during this process and we have been waiting to hear back once again.

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Why We Chose to Adopt

In case you are unaware, we are in the process of adopting a little girl from Uganda, Africa. We receive questions all the time. And with all of the recent difficulties surrounding Josh and Tasha’s adoption process (see below for details), I thought it would be helpful for me to address the most common questions here.

Why adoption?

Simply answered, we believe God has a heart for adoption. Scripture encourages us to care for the widows and orphans. Spiritually, we were all once orphans and God adopted us into his family. When called by God, why would we not respond by doing for someone else what he has already done for us.

Why Uganda?

As a family, our hearts have been tied to Uganda ever since before we were married. Over 10 years ago, I actually proposed to my wife on the Nile River overlooking some falls in Uganda. It was that same trip when my Ugandan friend and mentor Godfrey Wanamitsa (Director of Arise Africa International) took me to an area of land called Bukaleba. I felt like Abraham as he took my brother Josh and me to the top of this hill overlooking all the land and he said “As far as you can see in nearly every direction, God is going to give us this land.” In total it was about 5 square miles of land right on Lake Victoria. He went on to explain how they were going to build an orphanage, and a pastor’s training school, and a hospital, and many other things. Several years later, God blessed this great man of faith, and he did in fact give them land free of charge. Soon thereafter, through a series of miraculous connections and partnerships, Arise Africa broke ground on the orphanage. Our church family along with many other people were able to partner with them in the building of “our orphanage.” In September of 2010 the first phase of the orphanage, the “babies home” was completed. In October of 2010, we had the opportunity to visit the orphanage one month after the first phase was completed and were able to see the very thing that had been a labor of love for so many years. It was then, that we very specifically felt God’s call on our lives to adopt a child from “our orphanage.”

Why now?

We believe that God created one of these dear Ugandan orphans to be a member of our family, and it is our greatest desire to bring her home. Her name is Laiti. Even though we have only met her once, we have already accepted her into our home and family and consider her our daughter. Our girls talk about her and pray for her often and are eager to have her home. We are simply in awe of God and how He has and is working in our hearts through this adoption process. It is only because of Him that we have the love, family, time, care, and affection to give to this precious little girl that we don’t yet truly know but already love.

What’s going on with Josh and Tasha?

Some of you may be aware of the recent difficulties and setbacks that have occurred with my brother and his wife and their adoption process from the same orphanage. The short version is that bureaucratic technicalities may keep a little girl from a chance at having a family. The issues are more than I can adequately explain here, but I would highly encourage you to follow their blog to get the full story. It’s worth your time. You’ll need the password: TRUTH. They certainly need your prayers and support. Most of all they need a BIG God to do something BIG on their behalf. Furthermore, it would seem that my wife and I may be about to walk into the same $#!%-storm that they are going through. Please pray for God’s favor on them and us. Please pray that God is allowing this to happen so that he can do something amazing that only he can take credit for.

Also, please pray for us. Pray that we can figure out all the issues causing the problem with their visa approval for their little girl so that can hopefully fix those issues in our case if at all possible. Lastly, please take some time and send Josh and Tasha some love and support. They need it now more than you can possibly understand. You can contact them one of the following ways:

Facebook  |  Josh Twitter  |  Tasha Twitter  |  Josh’s Uganda Cell: 011-256-77-778-4652

The First The Last

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Josh Via's new album "The First The Last" hit iTunes today. I know that I'm maybe a little biased, but simply put: it's amazing. 

Right now as I post this blog, the album is listed at #27 in iTunes' Top Christian/Gospel albums! That's right, this independently released album is currently beating out albums such as Hillsong's "This Is Our God.

I'm on a mission to make this album reach the Top 10 before the day is out. If you plan on buying this album any time soon, you need to stop what you are doing, go to iTunes and buy it now. The more interest we generate, and the more downloads that happen today, the faster it will climb to the top of the charts. If you usually just copy other people's music or download illegally, don't. Please go purchase it on iTunes. It's only $9.99 for the whole album. You're not that broke.

I've been listening to it all day as I study and prepare to teach at a beach retreat this weekend. Josh's remake of the song "When God Ran" is hands down the best version of that song I have ever heard. As I was listening to it today, I was suddenly and completely reduced to tears in a public place. Such is the power of that song and the entire album. It is an anointed project and will bless you in your walk with Jesus.

Go buy it now. Seriously. I promise you won't regret it.

Guest Blogger: Uprising: Remix

My wife and resident hottie, Kelly Via, has a blog that she keeps private. So when I saw her most recent post, I asked her to share it here as well so that everyone else could read it, because she makes me sound pretty awesome. Here is her write up on a recent endeavor that Journey Students just started working on.

My husband has a gift for working with students. I love to watch him as he creates relationships and figures out how to best minister to his students. He is definitely not your typical "Youth Pastor," and I think that is one of the most refreshing things about him. He's real. He's genuine. And he seeks out what the students need – and finds relevant ways to minister to those needs. Did I mention that I am his biggest fan?

On Sunday evenings he leads/directs "Uprising," which is a worship service for middle and high school students. Jonathan and his student leaders have been seeking to 'remix' Uprising for a while now, at the students request. They have been praying and seeking out what changes need to be made for months. This past Sunday was the first of several services that will be called "Uprising:Remix." These will be a series of trial services to see what tools, music, topics, atmospheres, etc. will be the best fit to lead our students in worship.

For this first Uprising:Remix we had worship leader (and my bro-in-law) Josh Via come to speak to our students. The atmosphere was simple, coffee shop style. There were no gimmicks. No games. Just Josh, intermixing his {incredible} songs with their explanations and some great words from scripture. And the students…well…to say they loved it would be an understatement



Once again, our God has given my husband the wisdom and clarity to start tweaking things to better reach our students in this ministry that He has given him. I am grateful that Jonathan doesn't just do what "every other" church does to reach students. He goes out on a limb, he dares to do what others do not. He is creative and wise. And in it all, seeks Christ in each decision he dares to make.

Did I mention I am his biggest fan??

Keep Remixing it, Babe!!

-Kelly Via

Daddy Date Night

For those of you who don't know, I am the proud daddy of three beautiful girls! God has blessed us so much. I grew up in a home where my parents had four boys and one girl. Needless to say, we were a pretty rough bunch, and I've never had much sensitivity training. In fact, I'm convinced one of the reasons that God has given me three girls is to teach me some sensitivity. My wife often as to say to me, "Baby, you can't speak to her like that. She's a sensitive little girl. You hurt her feelings." Well, I'm learning. Maybe one day I'll have this thing down.

Even though I may not be great at sensitivity. I think I do pretty well at treating them like princesses. I want the way I treat them to be an example of how they should be treated as they one day seek out boyfriends and husbands. I want to treat them in such a way that sets the bar so high, that they will never want settle for anything less than that. 

Along those lines, this month marks the beginning of a new monthly tradition: "Daddy date night." On the second Monday night of every month, I will take one of my grils out a date. I don't share much personal family stuff on this site, but I thought this was important to share. So, below you will find pictures from our first ever official "Daddy date night."

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I let Cana choose whatever she wanted for dinner. She was adamant that she wanted a cheeseburger. So I took her to the best burger joint around: Five Guys

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After dinner Cana specifically asked if she could have "candy AND ice cream" on her "special date." Of course I couldn't resist. We started with the candy.

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Once her candy was carefully selected, I took her to Caribou where I enjoyed a coffee while she enjoyed her candy.  

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Cana wanted to take a picture of me too.

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True to my word, after she finished her candy we went to get ice cream.

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We finished up the evening at a book store where we read books together and played with a train set. 

We had a great time. I think I may have enjoyed it even more than Cana. This is definitely a good thing we've started. I know I'm going to look forward to it every month!

Snow Day – 1/30/10

In spite of all of the problems and madness that winter weather can cause around here, the snow and ice were a welcome distraction for the usual Saturday routine.

I love Journey and hate it when I have to miss a weekend. I even love spending the latter half of my Saturdays at the warehouse getting ready for the weekend and being a part of the Saturday evening service. But I have to admit, that it was nice today to have nothing to do but to play with my girls in the snow, make snow cream, play in the snow some more, watch movies… It was a great day.

We got about 4" of snow, but the top half inch or so was sleet rather than snow, to the point that most of the time, we walked right on top of the snow! The slippery icy surface made was a great environment for rather unique snow day fun. My wife caught some of our antics on camera. Enjoy…

Our Grandfather Who Art In Heaven

Sometimes it is still hard for me to believe that I am the father of 3 little girls. I believe it may be even harder for my parents to grasp that they are the grandparents of 11 grandchildren! It's been amazing and interesting for me to observe my mom and dad as grandparents. It's funny because when I was a kid growing up in their home, they were pretty strict. Don't take that the wrong way, they were (and still are) great parents who usually maintained a healthy balance between not being too strict and striving to raise  a godly family. Often they had to make difficult decisions which seemed unfair to us kids, but were necessary decisions because they loved us and wanted what's best for us.

Now watching them as grandparents, I sometimes wonder what has happened since then! When I was a kid, my dad firmly yet lovingly had full control over our household. Lately, I have watched as my two-year-old completely takes over control as my dad humbly submits to her leadership! 

"Popee, can I have some ice cream?"
"Well baby, it's too late and you've already brushed your teeth."
"But Poppee, I want some."
"Okay, sweetheart. Poppee will get you some ice cream."

You might think I'm joking, but everyone in my family knows that it is a 100% possibility that this conversation might actually place. My mom and dad are awesome grandparents, and their grandkids love them very much. They understand their roll and are very much enjoying not having to be the primary disciplinarians, but simply getting to love their grandchildren and watch them be happy, even if the method of that happiness is sometimes much to the chagrin of us parents.

Lately, I've been thinking about this scenario as it relates God. C.S. Lewis once commented that we, as sinners, would prefer a grandfather in heaven rather than a Father in Heaven.

We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven – a senile benevolence who, as they say, 'liked to see young people enjoying themselves' and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, 'a good time was had by all.' Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms; but a conception not very different lurks at the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don't, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction.

Hebrews 12:6 tells us that the Father disciplines those whom he loves. Furthermore, Proverbs 13:24 teaches us that parents who don't discipline hate their children. God as our Heavenly Father, loves us just the way we are, but he loves us too much to leave us that way. He actually has something better in mind for us, but to get us where he wants to take us, he must discipline us. Sometimes I may rather wish that I had a grandfather in heaven, but I'm grateful that I don't. I need a Father who is not content to leave me as he found me, but will discipline me and mold me into the man I need to be.

3 Week Overview

Wow. It has been a ridiculously long time since I have last blogged. No excuses, but it's not because I've been lazy. The past few weeks have been filled with fun, excitement, blessing and exhaustion. On July 4, the newest addition of our family, Karis Eleise Via, decided to join us! That's right she's an Independence Day baby. I wouldn't say that the process was uneventful, but there were no complications and God gave us a healthy baby girl weighing in at 7 lbs, 15 oz. 

IMG_0222Early that morning, Kelly had been feeling some contractions. Since she has a history of quick labor, we went ahead and had some family come and take Cana and Kayil with them for the day while we spent the day out counting contractions. The entire day Kelly's contractions were rarely ever closer together than eight minutes apart (sometimes there were as far as 20 minutes apart). For those of you who have had kids, you know that they tell you not to go to the hospital until your contractions are 5 minutes apart. So we kept waiting and waiting. Meanwhile, Kelly's contractions were getting harder and harder (but not closer together). Finally, I called the doctor, and she said that we were doing the right thing so we continued hanging out at the mall and waiting it out. Then suddenly, without warning Kelly's contractions moved to 3 minutes apart. We left the mall at 4:30 pm. Baby Karis was born at 6:05 pm. Crazy. It all happened so fast, Kelly didn't have time to get an epidural. The doctor wasn't even in the room until the end of the delivery. The nurse who was doing the paperwork and I basically delivered the baby! I've yet to learn whether or not that entitles us to a discount of some kind.

 

IMG_0245The week after that is a bit of a blur. Our family was getting acquainted to having a new baby in the house. I got very little work done, and we got even less sleep.  But as always, it's a very rewarding time and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. My wife is awesome. She's a freakin' machine. She just keeps going. One week after Karis was born, she was right back to work helping work with our middle school students. Most people didn't even expect to see her back at church yet, and she was already serving again. She never ceases to amaze me.

The next week, I left Kelly alone and took off to camp with 40 students. Again, my wife is awesome. She was totally cool with me taking off to camp only one week after baby Karis was born. Camp was incredible, God worked in the hearts and lives of many of our students. Lives were forever changed. Unfortunately, not everything that happened was good. On the second day of camp, I wrecked a little motor scooter and ended up spending most of the night in the ER.

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They told me nothing was broken but that it looks like I may have torn my rotator cuff. I don't know what that means, except that I'm in a lot of pain, and it may require surgery. I have an MRI scheduled this week with an orthopedic surgeon to figure out exactly what is going on. And we're beginning to question the "no broken bones" verdict, since the entire area around the injury has turned yellow. Now my poor wife not only has a three year old, a two year old, and a newborn to take care of, she also has an injured husband to care for. She's keeping it all under control. She is amazing. Please keep her in your prayers.

Well, there you have it: the three week update. As life begins to settle down, I'll return to my regular blogging schedule. Tune in tomorrow; I'll post a picture slide show of camp.