Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blogger Spotlight:Erin Witkowski

Dear Friends,

We're still out of town, and my access to a computer is very limited...if you've been emailing me and I'm not responding, it is not because I'm ignoring you!! I have only had my husband's laptop late at night after our church services are over, giving me just a little window of time to copy and paste all the guest bloggers posts/interviews before I fall on my pillow:) I promise to email everyone back when we get home...this week has been WONDERFUL and spiritually refreshing, and I am excited to see what God has in store for us in the days ahead.

Today's guest blogger is someone many of you may already know. As with many of my blogging friends, I don't even remember how I found her blog, Ski'ing Through Life...but I am so glad I did. Erin has a passion for God, her family, writing, photography and advocacy for Down syndrome, and she is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Lily has quite a crush on her son Grady, and you may remember that she said "yes" to him on Valentine's Day, when he asked her to be his sweetheart:) Erin amazes me: she has more wisdom at age 26 than many people I know who are twice age...her devotion to Jesus and her heartfelt honesty on her blog were what drew me in and kept me going back to read more.

I asked Erin to pick any topic related to Ds for her guest post, and to just blog from her heart. When I opened my email tonight and read the post you are about to read, I choked back tears... I am so honored for Lily's blog to be the platform from which she is sharing a special secret. Thank you, Erin, for entrusting us with your treasured desire.

Without further ado, please meet Erin Witkowski.

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I am a 26 year old wife, stay-at-home mom, part time tutor and aspiring photographer. I started my college education out at NC State as a scholarship women’s soccer player and after an untimely injury transferred and completed my education at UNC Wilmington, where I attained my communications studies degree. Shortly after graduation I married my best friend from High School, Paul. We moved from the coast of NC to Charlotte to follow my husbands job offer as a police officer. It wasn’t two months after we got married that we learned we were pregnant! When Mason was 8 months old we returned home to NY. My husband, Paul, is a father, husband, former Marine, and currently working as a Federal Officer. He is a passionate outdoorsmen, spending his free time fishing with Mason and Grady, hunting or taking long walks in the woods. Finally our first born son, Mason is 3, he is vivacious, passionate and loving. Grady, our second son, happens to have an extra chromosone, T21, and is pure joy. He was born 2/20/10….


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Has God ever taken you on an adventure? Or perhaps a treasure hunt of sorts, throwing out signs and placing people in your life at just the right moment where you undeniably know he is orchestrating it all. Subject to his timing and signs HE is working you out, he is using you, leading you, teaching you and shaping you.

Or maybe you haven't realized it yet, but that phone call or unusual encounter was really God Winking at you and someday soon his plan will reveal itself or your heart will heed the call.

The day I received one of my first pieces of treasure was a beautiful and unforgettable day, he knelt down in the dimly lit room next to the illuminated Christmas Tree, popped open the box and out came the question. I was blinded by all the bling, a vintage 1964 almost 2 ct. Tiffany's Engagement Ring.... Oh how I loved him....YES! ... I can remember when I first saw it sparkle and shine all over the car when the sun hit it while driving, the compliments, the memory, the family heirloom that fit my finger oh so perfectly. My high school sweetie and US Marine fresh off his deployment from Iraq, whisked me off my feet. Treasure.



Years have passed since that December day in 2004. We married in 2007 and have welcomed two treasured children since. Mason is 3 years and Grady Wayne is 14 months and Oh ....he has the most beautiful designer genes I have ever seen.



You see somewhere between my relationship with Jesus growing, the road to sanctification being pursued, my children being born, Discovering contentment in the world of Down Syndrome, my husband being Saved and finally my eyes opened to the adoption crisis the word Treasure has taken different shape.



So you see, I fell in love with a little boy on RR when Grady was about 6 months old. With that love came the realization that we were in a tough spot financially to pursue adoption.We rent from my family and have no room for another child unless we moved, we have a small amount of debt that needed to be wiped clean before even thinking about accepting fundraising money from others and bottom line we need money to get the homestudy ball rolling. We need to save that boy. We needed God to move mountains.

One day when I was praying for this little boy across the ocean, I looked down at my hands folded together and saw something sparkle in my eye, it was then during the time in prayer I knew what we had to do. God released me of my worldly possession, it was not mine but his. I shared with Paul what God had revealed to me ... without question or hesitation he felt it too.

This could only be a GOD thing.

Soon after this was laid on both of our hearts God made sure to speak to us and encourage us in many ways. A week later we heard our Pastor preach this verse from Matthew 13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. " Tears fell from my eyes, as if in that moment I felt God was speaking right to us. Sealed tight was our decision.

GIVE IT UP. RISK IT ALL. FOLLOW ME. TRUST ME.



Our first trip into New York City included three visits with Auction Houses and buyers. We put our fancier clothes on hoping to win the respect of the fancier auction houses. Time after time we didn't hear the price we wanted, actually it was rather disappointing. You see they still want to make a huge profit off us and the ring. We knew we needed to find a private buyer.

A few weeks later I made a phone call to my husband and started ranting about money (something I rarely do) and then I got a beep. It was one of the buyers wanting us to come back in to talk about our Ring again. With impeccable timing that I trust only God could orchestrate we made the plans. {Wink}



This last Monday, I sat down with them again. When I prayed about the visit, God pressed it on my heart to share with this buyer why we need the full price for the ring. So that is what I did. With Grady by my side I shared with him that we wanted to adopt a little boy from Russia with Down Syndrome... I shared what God laid on our hearts to do with this ring and finally the mental institution the little boy we love is faced with. Bottom line I told him we need this money to get started. A brief pause and smile, then he began sharing how he was also in the process of international adoption from Ethiopia, he then shared his discouraging story of waiting lists, not knowing if they will ever get a child, paperwork and red tape. I could feel his eagerness to share his story but also his frustration. He shared maybe their best bet was to accept an older child. It was like we were long lost friends and I KNEW, GOD was all over this meeting.

So about the ring... this is the part that amazed me really, because I don't think God's purpose for us that day was to sell it to him but to share our story with him. The buyer actually told me his hands were tied to offer us more money and he wouldn't feel right giving us less than what he knows we could get it for after hearing our purpose. He told me to find our own buyer and we should have no problem getting the asking price.

He then turned to me before we walked out the door and said "You have inspired me" and "Thank you".

All the Glory to GOD. It is not me, no no no. Jesus in me and the blessing of Grady and that little boy in St. Petersburg who helped encourage a Jewelry buyer in NYC to not give up in his pursuit in Ethiopia.

God is Good.

When we walked out of the NYC high rise building after the meeting and the sun was shining bright, brighter than when we walked in.



We found a beautiful spot to sit down for a moment and take a few photos and reflect. I felt a strong presence of God in our midst, as if he was telling me " keep following me, I am in control, I promise." Selling this ring and our pursuit of adoption is in God's hands. If it is meant to be, it will be. God will send the perfect buyer.





You see we are on an incredible adventure right now, not knowing where it will take us and in what timing. God knows we are willing to give up our most valuable worldly possession for his Glory.

Back to the verse in Matthew, you see we believe that little boy in Russia is a very important part of the Kingdom of God buried in that "field".

We want that FIELD.

Matthew 13:44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field."

Treasures aren't worldly things.

Treasure is the Love of Christ.

Treasure is his Kingdom.

Treasure is an orphan.

Treasure is family.

Treasure is Jesus.

What are you willing to give up to go buy that Field?



{We had not previously shared this journey with others beyond our small group and close friends, but when Patti asked me to guest blog, I felt it to be the perfect timing to share what God asked of us...we understand our road to adoption may be long or short as God moves those mountains or doesn't... my only hope in sharing this is that perhaps it encourages even just one person to lay it all down}

17 comments:

Jessica from Germany said...

What a cute little boy. I´m sure God is with you and will help you. Praise our precious Lord! And thank you for your inspiring story.
Kind regards
Jessica

Amy said...

What a beautiful story! May God bless you and your family on this wonderful journey.

Erin said...

I love Erin's blog and this was such an honest heartwarming post. I love it! I'll be praying for them and hoping that their dream of adoption comes true.

Anna Theurer said...

Oh Erin! Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful story. You know that when the time comes I will do what I can to help get the word out and fundraise. Is this for Simon, the little boy that shares a birthday with sweet Grady? Praying.--Anna (Ellie Bear's mama)

Jamie Wooddell said...

What a precious story!
Oh I was heartbroken to hear that man adopting from Ethiopia say they might have to adopt an older child, as if that is second best. We adopted two older children (9 and 6) and their toddler brother (2). They are such tremendous blessings to our life. I don't want to imagine what we would have missed if we had been focused on only adopting a wee one.

Ginger said...

Oops. I'm still logged into my sister's account. That comment wasn't from Jamie, it was from me.

Anonymous said...

LOVE this!!! Erin- I love your heart. I have read your blog before, and I love it. Grady is just the cutest little guy!! And your pictures are amazing.

God does call us to give up our treasures for His treasures, which are far more wonderful than any treasure we could even imagine. I cannot wait to see that precious child in your arms. This post is so refreshing and inspiring and beautiful. I love to see His people sincerely walking out His call. Thank you SO much for encouraging us all today and sharing this. I will be praying for your journey and help spread the word when you begin fund raising. Much love, Cara

Anonymous said...

Patti- I MISS Lily!! I know there is nothing you can do about that since you are away. Just give her lots of kisses and hugs for me. And I cannot wait to see what the Lord is doing right now in your lives. I haven't emailed you because I know how busy you are, but I miss you too. Love you, Cara

nicole said...

Wow ~ what an inspirational story of detachment from the material and attachment to His will.

blessingsandglory said...

Erin what a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing so much of your heart and how God is working in your lives, your writing is such an encouragement. I can't wait to hear more about what the Lord has in store for you and your family.

God bless.

Libby

skiingthroughlife said...

Ginger,

I wanted to share with you and realized I definitely didn't explain this in enough detail after reading your perception on the gentlemen from NYC hoping to adopt from Ethiopia, he is totally open to an older child, they would love an older child but that was not their original plan, I didn't portray that correctly. The reason I mentioned that is because after telling him what happens to older children in Russia and mental institutions... he then started to explain how adopting an older child would allow them to be parents sooner and that is all he wants to be a parent, but that is not the list they are currently on. Adoption either way, is such a beautiful thing.. his story was nothing less than loving and compassionate. I wanted to share that with you I have a good feeling they won't be missing out!! Thanks for reading and commenting!
Erin

Ginger said...

Thank you so much, Erin, for explaining that more fully. I really appreciate it!

Susanna said...

Erin, this brought tears to my eyes! I pray that God will bless your gift by using it to move mountains!

Jennifer said...

Beautiful post and the boys are just precious. What an amazing story of faith!

cathy said...

Erin, that was beautiful & thank you for sharing.... thank you for allowing us to be apart of your journey

will read your blog--i am hooked!

I live in ny, as well westchester cty

xoxo
cathy

Danielle said...

What a precious precious story. It just brought tears to my eyes. I can imagine the love you feel for this sweet little boy... and I can't wait to hear that he's yours FOREVER! Yes. He is worth more than any earthly treasure. And him knowing Jesus' love through your family will be worth it's weight in gold! Praying it will be a speedy process!

Anonymous said...

Erin- had to tell you that I just love this SO much I just shared it with my husband. Now, we are both in tears. I sent you a message on FB, but wanted to tell you that I am blessed that our Benji shares your birthday today. Have a very special day. Love, Cara

Patti- May you have a beautiful Easter. Cannot wait to hear all about your conference and more pics of Lily!