our work

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 . . .