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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Older Child Adoption . . . Do You Hear What I Hear?

 This post is especially typed (with love in every word) for my bloggy friends who are adopting or have adopted older children.

First, let me share with you my definition of an "older child". . . a child who comes home after the age of two.   I know many authors define an "older child" in adoption as any child who is no longer a newborn.  I resist that definition, especially for orphanage-raised treasures.

Here's why: a child raised in an orphanage - even a WONDERFUL orphanage - tends to have notable delays in meeting his milestones.
It is not at all unusual for an 18-month old orphanage-raised child to be unable to walk.  A 9-month old may not be sitting  yet. A 6-month old may still have trouble lifting and controlling his head.   None of these little factoids means your child is relegated to a lifetime of battling special needs.  It simply means he wasn't someone's "one and only baby"  and that tends to cause delays in development.   It usually means he was not breast fed nor did he spend copious hours listening to his caregiver's heartbeat while she sat marveling at him on the couch contemplating putting him down but deciding not to.   That's just the nature of "group care".

For all intents and purposes, your two-year-old adopted child may still be very much a baby when he comes home - diapered, bottle fed, mouthing anything he can get his hands on, few or no spoken words.   In most cases, he will catch up given plenty of time and stimulation.   Sometimes he won't.   The only way to know is to raise him.

Our boys were 4 years old, 8 years old, 2.5 years old and 15 years old when they came home to us.   Without calling any child's name or sharing too much, let me list for you some textbook behaviors I have seen in my older children.  No ONE child of mine has exhibited all of these behaviors but each child has exhibited at least one:

1. Hypochondria - I have a son for whom even the slightest tickle in his throat or cramp in his stomach is a 4-alarm event. When I pick him up from a sporting event, the FIRST thing he does is list for me each and every injury and pain he has suffered as a result of playing said sport.  I have read countless articles that describe a child such as mine and just as many solutions to this issue. My own personal approach involves listening sympathetically and trusting my "gut" to tell me when medication or a doctor's visit is merited and when he is just fishing for an arm around the shoulders and a let-me-have-a-look.

2. Food Issues-  for an older child in adoption, food is a very touchy subject. ALL of my boys over ate tremendously upon arrival home. None of them came from an environment of starvation - NOT ONE!  Each of my boys was lovingly provided for in his orphanage.   The reason I believe my boys over ate (one to the point of vomiting on a regular basis) is the lack of CHOICE in food selection and portion sizes in an orphanage environment.  My boys were fed three nutritious meals a day before they were mine. But they did not get to choose their food, neither did they get to snack very often.  When brought into a family setting, they were literal "kids in a candy shop".   Some of my boys had no "shut off" valve and would out eat their father (and that man can EAT)!  Others would get right up from dinner and ask for a snack. Still others would take food to their rooms and keep it in a drawer so they never had to feel far from it.   For three of my boys, I found the best approach to be "just go with it".  I let them eat as much and as often as they liked within reason.  I DID NOT make a big deal about the amount or selection of food they ate.  The same result was yielded in each case.  My boys spent about a month or two pigging out and then returned to a normal, controlled, less-than-obsessed type of eating.
There are no more food issues in this house (unless you count me buying myself jars of cake frosting and hiding them in my nightstand for my own private "get away").

3. Clamming Up - this is, by far, THE MOST FRUSTRATING aspect of older child adoption for me.  There were times when I could clearly see one of my sons copping an attitude about something but he refused to discuss it with us.  Even when asked in his native language, he insisted all was well - with pursed lips and a distant gaze.  If ever a mother had to resist "reaching out and touching someone" . . . it was me when a son of mine chose to throw the silent treatment at us.  For this particular behavior, I am far less gracious than for those discussed above.  Refusing to answer and adult who is talking to you is RUDE and DISRESPECTFUL and, frankly, you don't get the luxury of being rude or disrespectful in our home.  I generally send the child to his room until he decides to respond when spoken to. .  and trust me, it's in HIS best interest to be far away from me when he's clamming up (ha ha).  In time, an apology and explanation are usually forthcoming.  Sometimes I have to apologize, too.  I never handle this one very well.

4. Grief-  my boys all missed their "old lives" to one degree or another.  Sometimes their way of coping is to talk about life in the orphanage with great grandeur. Other times, it is to refuse to talk about it at all.  I thought it would be a very loving act to make a bulletin board for one of our sons before he came home.  I printed pictures of his house parents, friends and other caregivers and covered the board with them.  Within two days of coming home, he promptly removed every photo and replaced it with sports pictures he printed from the internet.  Okay, point taken.  Either I was not close enough to him to choose the fodder for his bulletin board or he did not want a reminder of all the loved-ones he left behind.  No matter what the reason, I let him steer the ship on this one.  The same goes for talking about the "old life" or sharing birth history.  I let my boys pick the tempo on that. If they want to talk, I'll listen. If they have questions, I will answer them.  One of my boys even asked to read his paperwork.  I let him.  He seemed relieved afterward.
Their lives are a puzzle, even to them, and they deserve to have the pieces when they ask for them.  It's their story. They have the right.

5. The desire to be "White" - one of my boys asked to die his hair blond within the first week home. When I asked why on Earth he would want to do that, he plainly said "I wish I was white".   This same child refused to speak his native language with my husband, much to the chagrin of Daddy.   This is a behavior that I might have expected if my boys came into an all-white family and just wanted to blend but my husband is full-on Filipino, speaks the language, we cook the food, etc.  I am the oddball in this home and that's just fine with me.   You may find your older child rejecting his birth heritage for a time after coming home and all the dance classes, play groups and Brown-is-Beautiful books may not reach him . . . YET.  There is no  "quick, slap on a bandaid" approach to handling this one.  Reality therapy was our best bet.  We simply told our son that God made him Filipino, he is handsome, smart and strong and God never makes mistakes so you'll have to learn to say "thank you, Jesus, for making me who I am".   This child has been home for years and now seems quite proud of his race - but he still insists his wife will be white!   Sorry, son, I have no answer for that one except "more power to ya"   . . . ha ha . . .

Now, take a look back over my list and tell me.  If you happen to have older, biological children in the home, is it possible you've seen some of these issues in THOSE children, too?  I have.  And sometimes my heart breaks for the adopted child because he lives in a fishbowl.  If he likes to draw pictures of machine guns, he's headed for prison.  If my biological son does the same thing he's just interested in the military.   If an adopted child takes a candy bar from a store, he MUST have a full-blown attachment disorder. If a biological child does the same thing, he is committing a sin and must apologize - and then he's learned his lesson.

Yes, often times older child adoption brings with it a specific set of behaviors.  Children learn to cope and survive in some unpredictable ways.  But I BEG you to give it time. . . some of these issues will extinguish on their own and others may require a little more directed intervention.  Whatever the case may be, give thanks.   Remember when that child was just a photo in your hands and a file on your desk? Remember when you longed to just touch him in person? To be the one to tuck him in at night? To be the person to walk him through his fears and adjustment?    Well, here we are . . .   GIVE THANKS.    When our Father could have chosen anyone for the job, He chose YOU.  And equipped you to guide and love  your older child through every phase and every stage.

JUST AS HE LOVES US!
 

Monday, December 10, 2012

A Trip in Pictures



I have wanted so badly to share all that is going on with my husband and older children on this trip to The Philippines!  There has been awesome ministry, times of rest and relaxation, visits with family and friends and time with our sweet Ariel that all bear sharing.   I want to tell you EVERYTHING, precious readers, but after suffering for 9 days with the flu, my creative genius appears to be on hiatus . . . I am having a hard time  organizing my thoughts into words that might do this trip justice. So I've decided to share "A Trip in Pictures" with you instead.

Please note that due to the Hague regulations, I am not able to share ANY specifics online about the children the team was blessed to work with. I can't share their names or locations online. We have to honor the rules of the Hague for both the safety of the children and the integrity of the project. I know you understand!


Manila traffic is unbelievable, day and night, and deserves a mention!



My family used the jeepney (above) and trike (below) as a way to get around town on this trip...inexpensive and efficient!


A little "chill time" in the hotel was always welcome at the end of a long, hot day.

Lunch with Sharon (back r), Ariel (orange shirt) and friends makes the trip so much fun!
Ariel (Lem's bio brother) skyping with us from the family' hotel room.  Brothers need to stay in touch. For both of them, a lot is at stake in this relationship. Blood ties are so important! 
These little cones are a family tradition! You get to pick five different flavors of mini cone. I don't know why someone in the US hasn't started a business like this! These are so good!


Having his mini cones . . .
This beautiful girl has visual impairment but can track light! She IS light  .  . . so lovely!!!

This sweet boy is shy and cooperative . . .he has partial sight  but such a severely crossed eye.  And the surgery he needs is literally a 30 minutes out patient procedure here in the US. 

The spot on this gorgeous girl's eye will be evaluated by our trustworthy doctor. Please pray that it is benign and cosmetic.  We want so much to be able to deliver good news to her wonderful children's home!

This gorgeous angel is not visually impaired but hearing impaired. Her orphanage staff lovingly brought her to our team asking us to PLEASE find her some hearing aids.  This is not the work we set out to do but who can say "no" to this beautiful girl?  If any reader knows how to get some child-sized hearing aids, we're "all ears" . . . we want so much to help her!!!

This 16 year old boy has cerebral palsy and visual impairment.  He worked SO hard to impress our team with his shape sorting skills, never losing that big smile or that determination.  This child is worth investing in. Yes, he's "older", yes, he's considerably disabled but YES, he is a precious human made in the image of God.  He deserves to have someone cheering him on at even the smallest gain. 

This trip only further ignites the fire in our family that we NEED to relocate as soon as possible!
Please pray for a speedy sale of our home and for the pieces to fall into place.
We are still in need of monthly donors to make this move possible.  Won't you consider donating $25 per month so we can go?    I'm not so good at "asking for stuff" but for these children and the many others who wait in their orphanages for someone to come alongside them, take up their cause and shine a spotlight into the darkness, I'm not afraid to ask.  In fact, it's my honor.

For HIS Fame,

Nikki
The Bartimaeus Project
www.bartimaeusproject.org

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

In The Line of Fire

Those of you who know me IRL, know that I am not a "demon around every corner" type of Believer.

I don't go around binding and rebuking things.

I've never cast anything out of anyone.

But I DO believe in spiritual warfare and am living in the line of fire right now.

My beautiful Ezekiel landed in the hospital just a week before my family's scheduled trip to The Philippines to begin work for The Bartimaeus Project!
He was diagnosed with bronchiolitis brought on by a virus, most likely influenza. He had a high fever and the hospital staff struggled to find a medication that would open his airways. It was terrifying for our whole family.   God graciously healed our boy! My husband and two hard-working older children went on the trip in my stead . . .

And second-to-youngest son got the flu.

A few days later I was preparing to speak at our church's Christmas Brunch for ladies.  I began
to have that nagging, powdery throat that signals something is coming on.  I went on to enjoy the brunch but by the end of that day, I was in bed with a fever of 103 and the flu. 

Yup . . . more flu.

And now twice-daily skypes with my Philippine travelers are muddled by so much coughing from the US side of things.

And middle son came stumbling into my bedroom in the wee hours of last night to tell me every joint hurts, his head was burning up and he has "watery eyes" . . . fourth victim of the flu emerges . . .

The weather is dreary and now I'm glued to my facebook as I pray for the healing miracle of a BEAUTIFUL little girl with Down Syndrome who appears to be close to dying from sepsis and a host of other complications . . . the effect of this on my spirit has been surprising even to me. Please pray for her. Her name is Aziza and she is a dark-haired beauty all of six years old . . .

I don't know this family directly but her mother and I have many mutual friends online. You see, the Down Syndrome community is very close-knit, even online. When one of us loses, we all lose. We all know it could just as easily be our own child and one day might be.  And the reality that God doesn't always heal is not lost on any of us.  We have held all-night candle light, leave-your-porch-light-on vigils and all-day fasts for the healing of other children and God has chosen to take those children Home.    And sometimes the reminder of the fragility of life leaves me questioning. I feel faithless but He doesn't always heal. He gives and takes away.

And the enemy is hard at work to take the combination of all that I mentioned and twist it into   the shape of a dark cloud and plaster it over my head.   I'm an easy target.  Sick.  Sick kids. Husband and teens across the ocean.

But the enemy will NOT gain a foothold in this heart and mind.  Not today!  Because greater is He who is in me than he that is in the world"!

I have to be willing, not just willing but eager, to take from the hand of the Lord, both the good and the bad.  You see, I learned long ago from the reading of the story of Job, that the enemy has boundaries.  And God is sovereign.

So I choose to use this time to flex the muscle called "counting it all joy" . . . which is rusty because life has been pretty darn good for me up until the whole hospitalization of my angel baby, for a long long time it's been sweet.

So I'm counting it all joy as my husband, adult son and almost-adult daughter minister to children on the other side of the world . . .
 As a little girl is given an extra measure of joy from some special time with my husband...
As a 16 year old boy feels the overwhelming sense of achievement of being able to sort some shapes with an audience cheering him on . . .
As a child too disabled to give much indication that she is aware of her surroundings blesses my own family because she is life . . . and life is precious . . . NO MATTER WHAT~!

"Count it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing."   James 1:2-3


Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Children are Coming, The Children are Coming!

As you prepare for Thanksgiving this week and then, on to Christmas shopping and decorating, let me toss one more item at you that will require some time, prayer and energy . . .


SUMMER HOSTING 2013!!!!!!!!!!!!


It's THAT time again! Christian Adoption Services has received the profiles of the beautiful children, aged 7-14, who will be coming to North/South Carolina this summer in hopes of finding their forever families.

I am looking at their pictures right now!

And . . . WOW . . .  pure sweetness!   There are 2 sibling groups of 2 and there's even a sibling group of 4! The group of 4 is made up of a big sister and her 3 little brothers. The youngest brother is just 7 years old.  . . and they prepare to spend another Christmas among the fatherless.  It makes no sense to me that children this healthy, cute and hopeful do not yet have parents.  (They are 12, 9, 8 and 7).


Let me tell you a bit about the other children . . .

1. Jonalyn is a thin, cute 9-year-old girl. She loves to dance and play with her friends. She is suspected to have some ADHD.  She is not being placed with any siblings. She is very tiny for her age.  In this photo, she is wearing shoes that look to be too big and you can see her "spunk" in her eyes! Adorable!

2. John is 12. He is handsome and outgoing. John loves to  play basketball and garden. He is very polite and friendly.  A side note about John:  he was hosted 2 winters ago by a family that very much wanted to adopt him but could not due to NO FAULT OF JOHN'S . . . the mother in this family is more than happy to communicate with any interested parents about John. She said so many wonderful things to me about John that I wished we would be here this summer so MY family could snatch him up.  He has waited far too long. He's a good boy but I fear he's losing hope . . .

3.The brother/sister sibling duo are Jeffrey- 13 and Jean-9.  And I know looks shouldn't matter in the adoption world (or any world) but reality is reality and these kids are BEAUTIFUL! They  are very small for their ages and had a rough life living under a bridge being passed to various relatives before coming into care. They have suffered loss but still hold out hope that there is a family out there with room for them. They need to stay together and find their healing place in a loving, accepting family.

4. Daniel takes ballet, jazz and hip-hop classes at his orphanage. He is 12 years old quite handsome.
He loves to draw and is good at making friends. Daniel desperately needs Christian parents to guide him through his teen years and help him pursue the things that will help him to become a successful man.  At 12, very few children are chosen. Even fewer boys. Won't you consider taking a leap of faith on a child who is destined to wait and age out simply because of his God-given gender?

5.Raydelle is 13 although he looks much younger. He loves attending church and is listed as athletic and coordinated. He has a smile that lights up the photo I am looking at right now.  He is one of the  many, MANY children I have read up on over the last few years who, on paper, might not catch your eye but if you could just SEE him . . . precious!

6. This next boy is a small, thin 14 year old named Sonny. To be honest, HE is the one we want the most for our own family . . .partially because he looks like "one of us" but even more, because he is  a redemption story waiting to happen. But we are moving to The Philippines and he needs to be chosen long before we will be eligible to adopt again.
 Sonny is the victim of physical abuse by his father and step father (not sexual abuse!) . . . his step father even cut off one of his fingers in anger! Sonny is described by his caregivers as a very helpful and compliant child who is also shy and withdrawn.  Wouldn't YOU be ?? He is good with younger children and talented at playing guitar and drums.  Sonny is one of the waiting children who has watched others be adopted and, I would guess, is beginning to wonder if his turn will come.  And I don't mean to sound like broken record but . . . Sonny is extremely handsome.  I notice that he is getting a longer write-up than the other children and so, I'd better stop now and keep it balanced but PLEASE, SOMEBODY COME FOR SONNY!!!!!!!

7. Next is the sibling group of 4 (Rosalinda, Ramil, Rammel and Ryan). They are cute and well-bonded to one another.  As most Filipino children, they are tiny by US standards. They were voluntarily surrendered by their birth mother she could not care for them financially. But they know what it is to be loved and, no doubt, are missing terribly being in a family home. Not only would you be blessing four gorgeous kids through adoption but their mother as well. I have no doubt that this birthmother unselfishly placed these children in hopes of a great life for them. How humbling that YOU could be the answer to the prayers of a woman living in poverty on the other side of the world.
God's interwoven mercies blow me away!

8. Jerome is a 14 year old boy who was left in a box on the porch of an older couple as a baby. It took many years for him to be cleared for adoption because The Philippines does a thorough job of looking for responsible birth family prior to clearing children for adoption. Jerome likes to play drums in his church band and is considered polite and a good friend to the other children in his center. Jerome is dangerously close to aging out. He is one child I would probably just adopt and not spend time hosting if God led me to him, because he ages out at 16 thanks to US immigration law (and don't get me started on US immigration law . . . grrrrr).

9. Rico and Rex are adorable brothers who are 11 and 7.  They look very much alike - doubly cute!
Rico loves to sing, dance, play with legos, cars and watch cartoons. Rex is an active little boy who likes to work outside in the yard and water the plants. These brothers are firmly bonded and get along with each other well. As I read their files, I was impressed with their test scores. These are bright boys who need a family to challenge them academically and foster that intellect that is there and ready to be cultivated.  These boys are not noted to have any behavior challenges but have agreeable dispositions and are always up for something new.  They are going to be wonderful sons.

And here is something to consider: you don't have to host.  These children are available for immediate adoption. If you choose to adopt, you don't have to be living in NC or SC.  You can contact Jim or Jenica at Christian Adoption Services (www.christianadopt.org) and get the ball rolling. You can get lots more information on any of these children and seek the Lord as to whether or not they are YOURS.  Adoption is hard work. Adoption of older children can be especially challenging but anything worth doing is going to require you pour yourself out and let God use you!



In the adoption community, Filipino children are considered especially desirable and here are a few reasons for that (aside from their natural good looks - to which I am shamelessly partial).
A. Most orphanages in The Philippines have a low staff-to-child ratio and children are well supervised and cared for.
B. The Filipino culture places a high value on children and their orphans are generally loved by their caregivers and treated with the care (and discipline) any family would impart.
C. Adopting a waiting child in The Philippines takes about a year from application to travel - much shorter time frame than most adoptions (we did two of our adoptions in less than a year each).
D.  Travel in and around Manila is not overly difficult. English is widely spoken and Western-style hotels and restaurants make the trip easier than many countries.
E. The Philippines is a Hague Convention country.  You will NOT be bribed or asked for additional money in country. You will NOT travel only to find out your child is no longer available or much more disabled than his paperwork indicated. This is a transparent process, as much as possible.
F. The Filipino caregivers are brutally honest about the shortcomings of your child in his paperwork. Sometimes the write-ups seem a little negative or harsh but for good reason. The Inter Country Adoption Board does not want any potential adoptive parent to claim to have not been adequately informed of a child's needs and "issues".  They want to avoid adoption disruption.  The rate of disrupted adoptions from The Philippines is significantly lower than many countries.

If you have read this far in this lengthy post, I can't help but wonder if God is pulling your heart toward Philippine adoption and/or one of the children coming for Share Your Summer 2013.

Philippine adoption has changed my family for the better . We are so blessed to have entered the adoption world and we are extra lucky that we found The Philippines . . . or maybe The Philippines found us!  Either way, we have fallen in love with the country, the culture and especially the orphans.  I believe you will, too.

Seek His Face! Ask Him what you are to do with what you now know!

For HIS Fame,
Nikki
proud Mama to six angels
two the "old fashioned way"
and four through the miracle of Philippine Adoption




Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The "Don't Regrets"

There are choices in my life that I will NEVER regret.

Here are just a few . . .

committing my life to Jesus

marrying outside my own culture/race

quitting my teaching job to stay home with my children full-time

adopting my boys

adopting a child with Down Syndrome

selling our big house and moving into a small one

getting lasix surgery

taking a stand, even though I lost a friend

cutting up the credit cards and living below our means

going to college at Appalachian even though I was accepted at UNC

the  nights I spend reading until 2am, even though I'm exhausted the whole next day

taking up running

giving away our Corgi to a lonely older lady

letting my oldest child get tattoos and piercings - because I love his heart

saying "no" to a bunch of commitments outside this house because my people come first

I encourage you to make your own list of "don't regrets".  When the enemy of our souls tries to accuse you, remind you, of the bad choices you've made in your life - the ones you've been forgiven for, the ones you've tried to forget - take a look at your list of  "don't regrets".   See the hand of God woven throughout your life and how He works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28).  

Make your list!   You won't regret it!




Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tribute

Today, November 4th, 2012 is Orphan Sunday.     All around the country, churches are promoting adoption and orphan care in one way or another.  Facebook is rife with adoptive families sharing first photos of their adopted children.  Scripture and touching video inundate my "inbox".

I love it!

It draws my mind back to our first adoption in 2005. We had two biological children, a boy and a girl, and had surgically sterilized ourselves to make sure that's all we ever had.
But our BIG God had a BIG plan . . . to shake us right out of our comfort zone and give us the indescribable gift of a beautiful almost-four-year-old little boy with hearing loss and developmental delays. . .

 He has grown into a sweet, thoughtful, AMAZING 11 year old who reads well, is achieving his goals in math and has the kind of servant's heart every parent dreams of!  Ky was the perfect first adoption, as God well knew.  He bonded quickly, drew every family member in with his adorable face and sweet ways and rarely, if ever, misbehaved.  He made us eager to adopt again!

And then came Lemuel . . .
At 8-years-old, Lem was a firecracker of a child! He had the energy of a dozen children and had been through several disrupted adoptions. Lem was wounded and he challenged us at every turn. We can now say, with full confidence, that God has healed our sweet boy and he is proving to be a trustworthy young man with a fierce sense of right and wrong.  He is a star athlete and yet so humble about the gifts he has been given in that department.  Whenever the phrase "it was worth it" comes up in a television show, casual conversation or something I'm reading, my mind goes to our precious Lem.  We waited a long, long time and went through many MANY trials before this child grafted into the family but here he is and yes . . . it was worth the wait!

Four years later, God gave us the blessing of a child with Down Syndrome. . .
This tiny "baby" was 2 1/2 years old when he found his way into our family and along with him, came the most remarkable changes in all of us!  Appreciation for the smallest gains, compassion for those who struggle with developmental disabilities, the kind of protective love for another person that makes you ready to spring into action at the slightest sideways glance . . . we have to temper this in our older children. We have to assure them that not everyone who looks at our Angel Baby in public is thinking something unkind.  But more than what he represents, we love who he IS.  He is shy with strangers, he loves to dance and "sing", he eats with great gusto and he can be as stubborn as any child I've ever met.  Watching him sleep is precious and holding him while he sleeps can still put tears in my eyes.  When we hear "God's ways are higher than our ways", we can agree with complete certainty.  We might not have pursued the adoption of this Angel had not the Lord pricked our hearts so clearly . . . but oh, what we might have missed!  He is as close to perfection as a human can be.
The irony of that statement might be lost on some but if you have a child like ours, you understand completely.

But Our Father was not finished stuffing this family full just yet. . .
Into my hands came the file of an almost 15 year old boy.  And I saw his picture. And I knew he was MINE . . . just as sure as I knew I was living and breathing, I knew this young man was destined for our family . . .
And he came- terrified and uncertain, having been so long in his caring center. Having built relationships that were real and strong with so many who raised him, hating to leave yet needing to move on at the same time.  But this young man had been prayed over. He had been committed to God many times by many Believers. And we have been blown away to have been chosen to step into his life at this juncture and be the ones to say "forever". . . that is a privilege we will never take for granted.  God could have chosen anyone, but He chose US.   Thank you, Father!

And our crew has grown so big and beautiful, I often can't believe they are mine . . .


So as Orphan Sunday draws to a close,  I pray that families around the world are prompted to open their hearts and homes to just one more child, or to give to a family going through the adoption process, or to pray for orphans in every country.

The knowledge that there are children with nobody to call "mommy" or "daddy" lays me low. I choose to focus on all the "found" children today, like my own sons, but I am keenly aware that many remain unclaimed, feel unwanted, feel "less than" and in this broken world, that will always be a bitter truth.   But my prayer for those priceless treasures is that YOU, my readers, my friends, will notice, and care, and pursue them, even to the point of tremendous personal sacrifice.

There is no child too disabled, no land too far and no price tag too high for our Father.
He pays for what He orders. He guides. He equips. He sustains.
Always.
On time.
And sometimes, he even says "keep the change". . .
Won't you ask Him what He wants of you on this Orphan Sunday?

"God places the lonely in families . . ."   Psalm 68:6








Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Job Well Done

Happy Reformation Day (especially to those reader friends who choose not to acknowledge the OTHER holiday taking place . . . the one that brings Reece's Cups from the homes of strangers into the greedy waiting hands of my prodigy).


For those keeping up with The Bartimaeus Project happenings, today is the last day of our Red Envelope Challenge.  The Red Envelope Challenge is laid out on our web page pretty succinctly but, basically, it's a push to obtain our start-up funding so my family can move to The Philippines.
It's gone well in my opinion.  We are inching closer to the move and are encouraged beyond our
wildest expectations at the generosity of God's people.  Many with no connection to The Philippines, blindness or adoption.  God has given them eyes to see and hearts to care even if the success of the project does not directly effect their day-to-day lives.

I love that!


I have received a recurring question regarding The Bartimaeus Project so let me ask and answer it here for others who might be wondering:

Q: If we would like to donate but do not care to donate online, what is the best way to get a check to your organization?
 A: A check can be mailed directly to The Carroll County Community Foundation at:
                                 Community Foundation of Carroll County
                                   255 Clifton Boulevard
                                 Westminster, MD
                                                        21157

Just be SURE to put "Bartimaeus Project" in the subject line!!!
CFCC partners with many worthy projects and also has a general fund so we want to make sure the donation intended for the BP gets right to us.


I have to give one last, huge, resounding THANK YOU to those who have already given.
We are in awe of the way God moves hearts . . . He moves, you move, we move . . . the ripple effect.

FOR IS GREAT FAME,
NIKKI
Find Our Project HERE


                                  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Answered Prayer and White Fields

After a wonderful walk in the dark hours of the morning with my faithful walking friend, I came into the quiet house determined to spend some quality time in God's word. I have not done as well in that pursuit as I would like lately. I really need to go on a fast from my ipad . . . that would help.  Words with Friends or Words from my Father???? Hmmm . . . it should be an easier choice than I make it.

I usually prefer to choose a book of the Bible, most often Old Testament, and read chapter by chapter. I love seeing the hand of God in the lives of His chosen servants like David, Moses, Gideon and Daniel.  But today I played a little "Bible Roulette".  I do NOT recommend this method of study as a general rule but there have been times in my life when God has used it to speak to my heart.
Like today.

I opened to Matthew 20 and saw it . . .

It is the parable of the workers in the vineyard.  The master hires workers in the early morning, the afternoon, the late day and the evening and pays each worker the SAME wage at the end of the work day.

Those hired early are indignant!  They worked ALL DAY and received the same wage, albeit a fair and previously agreed-upon wage, as those who worked just a couple of hours.

The owner of the vineyard chastises those complainers with the remark "am I not allowed to do what I want with what belongs to me or do you begrudge my generosity?". 

And I realize that my husband and I are those workers hired very late in the day! But HE has been and is still being so generous with us just because He is good and He feels like it. Not because we "deserve". We don't.  All we "deserve" we have mercifully avoided by the brutal substitutionary death of God's perfect son. 

And that makes me want to worship Him all the more . . . because grace begets gratefulness.

Yes, Father, you are allowed to do whatever you want with what belongs to YOU . . . and with WHOEVER belongs to you . . . because it pleases you to do it.

So in giving and taking away, in healing and not, in bounty and in want, we have no right to look over our shoulder or to the left and the right and ask why SHE gets this and HE has that.

We have only but to praise You for the provision that comes from Your hand.  Your loving, guiding, cradling hand that is promised to never leave or forsake us. The value of which can not be measured.

So thank You, Father, for hiring us. Thank You for the wages. Thank You for the work. 

Thank You for proving time and again that You are doing this and we need not strive.
Or worry.
Or doubt.
Or give up.


Thank You for the tangible ways in which you are carrying us. The severance, the insurance, the provision that is more than we asked or imagined.  When you owe us nothing but are giving us so much.

Why?

Not because of our goodness but because of Yours.  To make us humble. To remind us that not a breath is drawn apart from YOUR will.  To teach us to trust even more and to never fight You for the helm.


Hired. Paid. Used. Protected. Guided.










Monday, October 15, 2012

Free Indeed


Finally, after months of praying, talking, anticipating and planning, Our Father has given us some clear direction by way of a layoff.  Tomorrow (Tuesday), my husband is no longer an employee of Oracle, Inc. but is a "free agent".  This was a voluntary layoff in that he was asked quite awhile ago by his manager if he would like to be considered for such in light of his revelation that our family desires to shuck off this life and hit the mission field.

Excitement!

We have six children and some time will lapse between tomorrow and our physical move.

A little nervousness, too!

But God has always provided.  We have NEVER had to miss a meal.  We have never had our electricity turned off or had to use a food pantry.  And many Believers we know personally HAVE gone through these trials.  And we are no better than they. And maybe we, too, will experience these things.  We prefer being the "helper" as opposed to the "helpee" . . . but who doesn't?   And we read in God's word that there is a time and a season for everything.

But we have done all we can to prepare.


Our only debt is our mortgage. And it's small like our house.  Thank you, Dave Ramsey!

We have taken and taught Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University".  There is an emergency fund.
There should be severance although we do not know how much.  We find that out tomorrow.

That's a prayer request.  That the severance is exactly what we need to sustain this family until our move.  Our daily bread . . .

All this to say, we are fine. We are taken care of.  We are BLESSED!  We are filled with anticipation for what the Lord will do next!  We ask for nothing but the prayers of our fellow Believers.

We trust that our Abba, Father has ordered even this for His own glory!

Oh, that His name would be lifted up here, even in this time of transition.   That my faithlessness would not rise to the surface.  . . That everything we endure points to the goodness of our God.

That's all we long for . . . let it be . . .



 











Tuesday, October 2, 2012

To Mothers of Sons

I have five sons, for now. A sixth awaits us as we prepare our move to The Philippines...maybe even a seventh, eighth or ninth. Only the Lord knows.

 And He knows how much I love my one-and-only daughter. And that I would gladly mother another daughter but it seems that is not my path. I am a mother of many sons.

 It appears that is part of The Calling. Precious only-daughter understands this well. When asked if she would like a sister, she unashamedly replies "not really". You see, she is a sister to many brothers. Settled in that role so well. Playing Call of Duty and unwilling to bring the drama. The perfect sister in this house of men-children.

 I know many adoptive families who actively seek out daughters only. Others actively pursue sons. We have done neither but God has brought our sons to us. Before they are ours, I know them. I see that young man on the "waiting for my family" list and I think "Oh, there you are son. I thought it might be a girl this time but it's not. It's YOU."

 Each time we felt God leading us to scoot over and add a member to our clan, we prayed and poured over the lists of waiting children that come to us from our adoption agency. As much as I wanted a sweet girl-child to grab my heart, these boys kept beating them to the finish line.

 There is something so unique about the mother/son relationship. We are his first "girlfriend" in the most innocent sense, the benchmark of what a woman should be. We tell our boys, just by our actions, if they are doing a good job of becoming men or if they are failing in their fledgling attempts. Be mindful, mothers, of the balance between criticism and encouragement!

 In a society that tells our sons they need to be "in touch with their feminine sides", we can help them appreciate all the God-given masculine tendencies that will serve to make them excellent husbands and fathers.

 God has impressed on me since my first-born son was an infant that I hold much power in determining how this person sees himself.
 I must impress on him the centrality of God's word in every facet of life.
 I must encourage him to learn compassion.
 I must guide him in not giving vent to his anger.
 I must allow him to carry heavy things and open doors for me.
 I must not disrespect and devalue his father at any time.
 I must teach him what his eventual wife will lean on him for and help him to remember to say "I'm sorry".

 And his father holds even greater responsibility in guiding this budding man onto the path that breeds life, health and righteousness.
 Dad must impress on his sons the centrality of God's word in every facet of life.
 He must demonstrate what it means to protect and provide.
He must model quiet strength and a servant's heart.
He must communicate that no matter how difficult marriage can feel, we never give up.
 He must teach practical skills like oil changes, check book balancing, staying out of financial debt and power-tool usage while keeping all appendages.
 He must lead his family in a way that spurs his sons to aspire to the same.


As my sons grow and the notion that I will become the "second best" lady in their lives draws near, I am given to extra consideration for the types of men I will be giving to some dreamy-eyed young woman.

 I am proud of who they are becoming.

 Unfinished in many ways but shaping up to be men I am proud to call my sons.

 A Sacred Trust.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Buckling Up

I hate roller coasters. I am NOT an adrenaline junkie by anyone's definition of the phrase.   I like calm. Boring. Turbulence on an airplane makes me queasy.

But right now, it feels like I am almost at the crest of a huge hill on a roller coaster. The ride is slowing down and the intermittent "click . . .click . . .click" is signaling the impending drop.

 Things have been happening here. Crazy things. We were contacted out of the blue a little over a week ago by an organization that places children with special needs into adoptive families here, in the US.

They asked us to pray about taking a ONE WEEK OLD baby girl with Down Syndrome.

 We said yes.

 The birth family chose a smaller family eventually. And that was fine with us. I was not sad and, truth be told, was maybe even a tad relieved. Because I love sleeping all night. And I knew she was going into a family of Believers, albeit a smaller one than ours.

 Football season has started and my 14-year-old star athlete has practice four days a week and games one day. I love to watch him play! He kicks butt out there but is a gentleman off the field.

 Basketball starts next week for 17-year-old son. He made the varsity try-out-only team and we are so proud of him.


 I came home from a brief visit to my parents' house on Sunday to find my oldest son (who is 18 and enjoying a little additional freedom that accompanies that number) had memorialized us on his body:
I like it. And I LOVE him. And he shared with us that he feels he is being called to full-time missions himself. Not just as a "missionary kid" but for real. For good. Did I mention I love that boy?


 All manner of things are happening with hubby's job, decisions to be made, a house to be either sold or rented - we can't decide which - and more.

Would someone who has dealt with all of these decisions just call me on the phone (after much prayer and fasting) and tell us what to do? I know it doesn't work like that but a girl can dream, can't she?


But there is such peace in the storm. I am in awe of the calmness of spirit my Father has chosen to impart. This is how I know it is HIM because if it weren't, I would be a mess right now . . . more of one.

 And the Lover of my Soul is more real to me in the midst of all the chaos than He has ever been before. I think about Him all the time now. I thank Him for each small kindness for, maybe, the first time ever. I am starting to recognize Him everywhere.

 I feel like a little child again, holding my Dad's hand in a crowded place and knowing if we lose each other, even for a second, it will be very scary so I have to look up every three seconds and make sure it's still him. It is.

 It always will be.

 Isaiah 58:11 The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong, and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Nothing to Be Afraid Of

For many months, I have been alluding to  big changes in our family. I have shared the fact that we plan to move to The Philippines and into orphan ministry but have been deliberately quiet about the details.

Mainly because we wanted to be 100% certain this was HIM and not US.
And because our organization's web site had to be prepared and tweaked before I could share it with anyone.
And because I would NEVER want to put something out there that people may feel led to support financially until I am sure it is what it claims to be, the doctrine behind the organization is square and they are good stewards in every way.

So, it is finally time for me to share the details of the project God is calling us to.

Our name? The Bartimaeus Project  (Mark 10:46-52)
 
Headquarters? Littlestown, Pennsylvania

Our "Job"? Traveling to various orphanages to work with visually-impaired children, evaluate them for possible hosting in the US for free surgery and (hopefully) a chance to find their "forever families".

When Will We Leave?  Lord willing, by March or April 2013

Where Will We Live? In a rental home somewhere around Metro Manila . . .yet to be determined.

Will the Whole Family Go?  Yes, even our high school graduate! We are thrilled!!!!!!!

How do you feel about such a big move?  I'm excited, scared (they have such BIG BUGS, BIG RATS and we will not use air conditioning in our home there -electricity is 3X the cost there as in the US).We have a lot to get used to.  Mostly, I CAN NOT WAIT!!!!! When God calls, the desire to obey Him over rides any fear or hesitation.  The fears are there but they pale in comparison to the chance to walk in the full life that He is offering.

When will you come back?  We don't know. Maybe a year, maybe never.  We are planning to rent out our house and not sell but that is mostly so our children can have the $ someday.

What do you need?
We need prayers most!! We also need many, many Believers to partner with us financially to accomplish this BIG THING. You will feel a part of something wonderful, I promise! And the Lord blesses gifts given in His name to work much for His kingdom.  His economy defies logic sometimes but always leaves me grateful I gave.

Right now, the organization is conducting a "Red Envelope Challenge". Basically, you go the web site, click on "Red Envelope" and pick an envelope (they are numbered 1-500).  Whatever number is on the envelope, that is how much you donate. You can choose #22, #4 or #500 . . . whatever you feel you can do!  Please take the challenge!!!!!

Next, we need families to partner with us monthly to keep us afloat while we are in the field. Even a small monthly donation is effective. Money goes much father in The Philippines and resources like food and medicine can be purchased so inexpensively.  

Finally, we need friends to champion our cause.  Will you spread the word? Will you consider talking about us on Facebook? To your church leadership? In whatever sphere of influence God has given you? 

You can find us at : www.bartimaeusproject.org


Help us help children . . . for the sake of good news of Jesus!






Sunday, September 9, 2012

Saying Goodbye

Oldest Son's 16th Birthday (2 years ago)
As we continue to make our preparations for moving to The Philippines, I can feel something strange and a little sad happening.  A shift in my thinking. 

I consider how old and ragged my couch  is looking.  I think "there's no need to replace it. We won't be here . . ."

I consider my daughter and second-oldest son's high school graduations and then catch myself . . . "oh, they'll be in The Philippines then."   And I feel sad and happy . . . the word "sappy" was created just for thoughts like these.

We have been blessed with tremendous friends and family here in the good old US of A . . . and I can't think about the void that will be left in my heart when I have to consider the time difference, the reliability of my internet and the cost when I want to reach out and touch someone.

But even more than my own sad and weird feelings, I am sad for my children.  THEY have made some wonderful friends, too.

Thanksgiving at Our House

Our boys with Two Great Friends at the Beach



Kyky's birthday with his favorite friends

Lunch With Family and Daughter's Close Friend
 Leaving family makes things doubly hard although I know there are airplanes and we will need to see them just as much as they will need us.  Of this, I am certain.
"MY side" at Oldest Son's Graduation Party

Uncle Jr with our sweet Angel Baby 
There is also a giddy thought that keeps my heart full of joy even though we leave so many behind.
It is the off chance, just the possibility, that after so many years of praying for Lemuel's oldest biological brother and writing so many senators( and even the President )to try to bring him to the US  and no one could help because immigration law does not allow for a young man of his age to be adopted, it might just happen in the most unexpected way . . . we will come to him.
And even at almost 22 years old, with many  there who love and care for him already, he has room for eight more people in his life.  Maybe, despite the many he has called "Mom", he would be willing to say that to this white lady who has sent him boxes and skyped with him over the years but never been able to visit in person. 
This young man has never left my heart and always has been in my prayers.   I think of his hard work just to speak some English to his little brother when they skype. And how he sang "Who Am I" by Casting Crowns to us over skype the first time we talked . . . and I felt like a ninny because it made me cry.    And every time it seemed time to end the skype, Ariel would say "Lem, Lem" and I could visibly see him trying to think of something more to talk about so they could have a little more time .

And when I pray for him now,  I refer to him as my "one", thinking of the parable of leaving the 99 sheep for the "one that was lost".  Even though he isn't lost, we know right where he is and who is watching over him, it seems he has been without blood relatives for far too long.  And we have his blood brother right here.  Seems simple enough . . .

As if adding another son to this full and blessed quiver wasn't enough, there's the ministry we get to do. We will have the privilege of going to many different orphanages to do play therapy and screening with visually impaired orphans.  We get the chance to put our hands on these fatherless boys and girls and tell them how precious they are!  We can build relationship with these children and, Lord willing, help them find their families.  Most importantly, we will be able to tell them about their Heavenly Father, who made them and loves them and has a plan for each one of them.

So focusing on Ariel and focusing on the children, I think I can do this "goodbye" thing. 
I know it won't be easy on any of us but I also know that Ephesians tells me I serve a God who does "immeasurably more than we ask or imagine" . . . so much more . . . and if those things I am imagining are THIS great, I look forward to seeing what the "MORE" will look like!

It's not quite time for official goodbyes yet but I feel the shift. The time is drawing near.
I have never had to trust so much in my life.  But our faithful Father is paving the way and
turning our hearts toward The Philippines in new ways.

And we wait . . . and expect . . . and follow . . .

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Why Date?

I dated as a teen.  Too much.  With little discretion and often times just to say I had a boyfriend.
This was long before the "in a relationship" facebook status made your friends flip out and you could be locally famous for a little while. . .

Many of my friends, whom I consider to be wonderful parents let their teens "date". It is an individual choice with which every family must assess it's comfort level.

But my teens don't date.  That's our personal conviction and I'll tell you why . . . it's plain and simple, really.  It's not something we can point to one verse in the Bible and say with confidence "see, dating is a sin".  Because it isn't.   But we discourage it for one primary reason . . . .

We don't want our children to give their hearts away, over and over, with scores of "I love yous" to people who are just passing through.  The kind of stirred up emotions you feel for that person you are dating are so intense.  He is "yours" and you are "his".  There's a claim being staked with no long-term commitment.  Even in a dating relationship that stays very pure, the emotions are a freight train and they can carry your heart away . . . again and again as you search for that "just right" person. It only ends up in pain and awkwardness because, let's face it, so few of us have found our "one and only" at 16 years old that technically, it is just practice with some game playing thrown in. 

That's it, in a nutshell.   

There's really no need to "practice being in a relationship" before that one special person comes along.

How much more precious will that best friend turned lifetime partner feel when he/she understands that you waited for them, not just with your sexual purity but with your heart and devotion as well. 

How much more committed will that marriage be when you can honestly say your spouse is the first and only person who captured your heart and gave you all those pit-of-the-stomach, can't-wait-to-see-you feelings?  

I imagine it would be spectacular. But I can only imagine because I was a serial dater from 15 years old until I finally met my sweet husband at age 23.   How I wish I had insisted on friendship only and never said "I love you" to others . . . it muddies the waters.  It just does.

Plenty of opportunities for my older teens to be "in a relationship" have presented themselves. They have had many interested parties over the years.  When my teens tell those suitors they prefer to stay "just friends" (and I have actually had the honor of hearing this said), some stay as friends and others choose to move on.   And it's a great winnowing process for them. 

And those who stay are smart.  Because one of these days, one of those wonderful friendships will turn into "the real thing".  And only the Lord knows which one.

So to those parents who have chosen to allow your teens to date, to be "in a relationship" long before that child or his bf/gf have the money, maturity or desire to make it a marriage, I ask you to consider what the benefits might be?  Does it make your teen feel more "normal"?  Wanted? Is it filling a void that should be filled within the family or by a deeper walk with Christ? Is it just your teen following the herd? 

There should be purpose to the decisions we make.  Even these. 

Again, please see my heart on this issue. Allowing your teen to "date", especially one who is spiritually  grounded, raised to respect others,  and who has the uncommon ability to put others before himself is NOT a sin.   It is a highly personal decision.

We just chose "no". 

If you haven't chosen yet, because your children are young or are simply disinterested in that facet of life at this point, pray through it with seriousness.   It matters . . .


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Something for Nothing

This morning in my devotion time, I began reading Matthew 19 starting in verse 16. It's the story that so many of us have heard about the "rich young ruler".  The young man tells Jesus he has kept every commandment and wants to know what else he has to do to go to Heaven.  Jesus tells him to sell all he has and give to the poor.  The young man goes away from Jesus very sad . . . because he is rich.

And his money was a stronghold. An idol. 


And we all have strongholds, don't we?  Things that have to be pried from our clenched fists if we are to live truly radical lives for the sake of the gospel.

This notion weighs heavily on me when I think about FUNDRAISING for an adoption.  We did it. We would do it again.  We had yard sales, plant sales, raffles, restaurants willing to give us a percentage of their earnings on a given day if we get scads of our friends to come and eat there . . . we benefited MIGHTILY from our fund raisers and we would do them again if God called us to adopt another child - we would have to !

We also received unsolicited donations from family and friends in varying amounts. We were often blown away during our adoptions by a knock at the door or a trip to the mailbox that yielded hundreds - once THOUSANDS -of dollars coming into our waiting hands.  Oh, how blessed we have been by the body of Christ!  How lavished in love and doted upon by those we serve with or even those we know casually.  When God moved hearts for our adoption, He used a bulldozer and a crane!

It was so humbling for us.  Just thinking of it makes my eyes brim with tears. People who have bills to pay, children to raise, cars to repair and groceries to buy gave money to our family to bring a child from another land, whom they had never met, into our home.  God stuff!

But we also had to work and sacrifice to bring our angels home.   THIS is where I step onto thin ice and probably a few toes.  

I see hopeful adoptive families posting one fund raising idea after another and most involve raffling off items that were donated to them for free.  I think this can be a GOOD THING, but not always.

Let me ask you, adoptive family, how FAR are you willing to go to bring that precious child home?
Are you willing to . . . .
sell one vehicle and share with your spouse?
take little Johnny and Suzie out of karate, piano or private school for a short time?
eat ramen noodles and stay away from all restaurants for awhile?
make your coffee at home?
sell those purses, extra tools, stereo equipment or electronic gadgets?
cut off your cable or dish and use those pesky rabbit ears for a few months?
take on a babysitting job or deliver pizzas at night?
use the parks and the library for entertainment rather than the movie theater and mall?

How many have turned away from this list sad . . . or angry?  How many are thinking things like "MY kids shouldn't have to sacrifice and suffer for the calling of their parents?" Or "the church needs to step up and care for orphans and widows?" .   I think it.  It's true.

Well isn't that orphan YOUR kid, too? Or he less important than the well-loved, adored, nurtured children that came from your own womb? 

No, he isn't.  He is equal even now.

We say we, as Followers of Christ, want to be radical.  Start now!  Live so simply that you can stand faultless before the Lord during your adoption process and say, as David did when offered a free animal to sacrifice . . .
"I will not offer to the Lord my God that which cost me nothing"  Samuel 24:24

Please, continue to fund raise, online raffle, send support letters to fellow Believers . . . those are all GOOD things and profitable in many ways.

But never discount that God may be calling you to "give it all" ... dig deeper . . . sacrifice more . . .
 turn those pockets inside out for that missing family member.

And I can assure you, Johnny and Susie will be fine.  Their character over their immediate gratification . . . holiness over happiness . . . but sometimes you can have both.

Just watch and see!

And fire up the pot . . . break out the ramen . . . and count it all joy.

SO VERY WORTH IT . . .



Thursday, August 23, 2012

We've Come a Long Way, Baby

June 12th marked six years since our much-smaller-then family piled into our old Ford, Windstar and took the two-hour drive to the children's psychiatric hospital.
Six years since we claimed a very scared but awfully cute 8 year old boy as our fourth child.
 It was the consummate case of "blind leading the blind".  Sure, we had adopted once before but never a child with a LABEL,  never a child from not one, but two disrupted placements, never a child that had been in the United States for just under seven months but experienced the pain of three adult lifetimes in that span.

It has been six years since the wave that rolled our boat, but never capsized us completely, hit our safe little nest that I so carefully feathered to keep out all the "bad things".

Six years since I lost the title of "The Most Together Mom You'll Ever Meet"  a title I bestowed on myself and based on my ability to reiterate the wisdom of others but that had never been earned through painful lessons and in-the-trenches parenting.

It has been six years since a child who felt truly unlovable,  and told me so, buckled up in that mini van to give family life one more go.  Because he had no power except the power to rage.  And he put all his effort into flexing that muscle beginning on the second day home.


Six years since the Lover of our Souls said "I have some immense work to do in one little family in North Carolina and this might hurt a bit . . . ."

Six years since I had the first glimpses into what true depression must feel like. And it was terrifying. And I understand now why someone would run . . . not walk . . . to the nearest pharmacy, or ABC Store and do anything it takes to make that feeling go away.   I never knew.

Six years since we stopped blaming bad parenting everytime we saw a kid coming unglued in a public place. We give the benefit of the doubt these days.

  So very long ago that we watched our other children learning painful spiritual lessons and rather than taking great measures to ease the pain, we recognized it for what it was and turned silently to our Father in prayer.

This little family is living proof that our ways are not His ways and our thoughts are not His thoughts. But that His are higher, grander, more far reaching, penetrating, succinct and not to be trifled with.

Six years since we lay between the rails on the train tracks and just cried out to God while the locomotive barreled by, inches from our faces.

We knew we were in the presence of a Great Work.  And as much as we longed to leave the classroom, we dared not.

SIX MONTHS . . . it has been about six months since our Father chose to heal our precious boy!
Six months since we sat up, blinked, looked at things through new eyes and said "that wasn't so bad".

                                            Lem( on the right -blue shirt) visiting biological brother
                                            who was adopted into a different family six years ago.

The Word of the Lord is true and altogether trustworthy.  I know this lesson and it has taken six years to digest it.  The healing of the Lord is complete.  I know this, too. It has taken me six months to believe it.

Psalm 30:5 says "weeping may last for a night but joy comes in the morning". 
Six years made for a long night.  Six months has been a beautiful morning.

Isaiah 61:3 says
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.

We have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. In sorrow and in joy.  In weeping and laughter, in tearing down and building up.  His peace sustains and his righteous right hand upholds.

Faithful God . . . fulfilling His purposes . . . never leaving nor forsaking.

Never giving us the shortcut to learning but holding our hands in each trial.

Thank you, Father.  You've brought us so far... in just six short years!
















Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Pat Robertson "Thing"

Much has been made over the recent inflammatory comments made Pat Robertson, founder and president of the 700 Club, regarding international adoption.
If you have somehow been in hypersleep and missed the whole cause of the hubub, you can view it at:



The phrases like "somebody else's problems", "wierd" and "take on the United Nations" were most certainly the most provocative words he used but the sentiment is what really caused my jaw to drop. The notion that orphans are "somebody else's problem" is just simply not Biblical, Mr. Robertson! We are Believers. Orphans are OUR "problem" until Jesus comes back and sets this broken world straight. As far as I can tell, that hasn't happened yet and so, yes, they are our "problem"!

In defense of Mr. Robertson, he did issue a written apology via the 700 Club's web site. I read it yesterday but was unable to locate it today to link it to this blog post. Interesting!

After I watched Mr. Robertson's comments for the first time, I ventured over to my adoption-Mama-heavy list of FB friends and felt sad at their comments. There almost seemed a "let's go get him, Ladies" type of fervor that did not feel very loving, forgiving or Christ like to me. Some Mamas could not let this thing rest and posted copious statuses (or is the plural "statusi" . . . ha ha) reminiscent of beating the proverbial dead horse. I considered unfriending these obsessed chicks but decided against it and did a little digging of my own. Far away from the annals of facebook.

Even more shocking than the initial statements Mr. Robertson made, possibly brought on by early stages of dementia or abhorrent theology - or both- were the connections that kept popping up between Pat Robertson and Charles Taylor, the exiled dictator of Liberia who was recently convicted at the Hague of atrocious war crimes against his own people and those of neighboring countries. Much evidence that Mr. Robertson owns diamond and gold mines in those parts of Africa and used near-slave labor (7 cents a day for wages) to extract natural resources from the countries of Liberia and Sierra Leone has surfaced. The evidence I uncovered was broad, vast and from a number of sources, not just Anti-Christian, Anti-Robertson camps but main stream media and even more conservative sources. Do some homework. You will be unpleasantly surprised.

I know the 700 Club and Operation Blessing have improved the lives of countless impoverished people around the world - more people than I could hope to touch in ten lifetimes, but I can't get past the wondering if it more restitution than service to the poor for the sake of the cross.

Doing for those who can not give back to you one iota except their "thanks" and lending an ear to the gospel seems "pure religion" (James 1:27). Digging wells for people since you're in the neighborhood mining their diamonds and inadvertently putting weapons in the hands of their oppressors, not so much.

Maybe I should have never watched "Cry Freetown" on youtube. (see warning about this video in my previous post). Maybe then it would have been easy to shrug off the connection between Robertson and the diamond mines with an "at least he's bringing jobs to the country".

Yes, fellow Believers, we must forgive Mr. Robertson his callous, thoughtless comments about our hard-won treasures from around the world. He has asked for forgiveness and we are not allowed to withhold it as our Heavenly Father would never withhold forgiveness when we ask.

But to those who support him monthly with donations. To those who sponsor projects through his 700 Club, I beseech you to do your homework and dig deeply.

We will have to give an account for our actions, or lack of action, now that we know.

And let's pray together that the Lord would open the eyes of Mr. Robertson's heart.

While there's life, there's hope!