our work

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Nothing!

Fundraising.

Just the sound of the word can send chills down an adoptive family's spines!
Most of us have done it. Some of us are doing it. LOTS of us are afraid to try it but know we need to.

It is estimated that the largest demographic of adoptive families are middle income, two parent homes. In other words, most adoptive parents are "your average Joes".
We are.
We have a smallish home, older vehicles and I am not too proud to take the kids to the free sample line at Costco for lunch on occasion (ha ha). We clip coupons, get excited about bags of hand-me-downs and I know how to make one chicken stretch into three dinners if I have to. We use the redbox and popcorn for "fun Friday" as opposed to whole-family trips to first-run shows. We run through the sprinkler and make our own posicles from frozen lemonade. We are frugal because we have to be.

We have adopted four times internationally with NO debt!

How? How on Earth when the laws of mathematics and supply and demand screamed "stop it! We don't work that way".

Here's how:
Jeremiah 32:27
"I am the Lord, Adonai. The God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?"

This is clearly, a rhetorical question from the creator of the universe. The obvious answer is "no, Father. Nothing is too hard for YOU".

As I sat pondering this post before writing it,my mind drifted to our most recent adoption of our teenage son. I was truly afraid when we started this process. Not of adopting a teenager. Not of making room in my heart or house. I was afraid of how we were going to pay these mountainous fees! I had already seen the Lord work miracles three times in our adoptions but dare I push the envelope? Dare I ask Him to lavish me AGAIN with provision? Would my friends, family and church have grown weary of our excited invitations for them to partner with us for the sake of an orphan?

I remember putting my "chip in" button on my blog with a little fear and trepidation.

In no time, the first donation came in. It was a LARGE donation from the teenage son of one of my highschool friends. This young man did not know us personally.
He is, I repeat, a TEENAGER! Aren't they supposed to be self absorbed? Aren't they supposed to be saving every cent for a fast car or the latest gadget? Nope. Not this young man. He blasted us with our first big donation and reminded me
that the Lord is GOD and NOTHING is too hard for Him!!!!

Take heart, my fellow fund raising friends! God moves the most unexpected people to do the most unpredictable things for His own glory.

OPPORTUNITY TO BLESS #1:
I know a family made up of four gorgeous children, two young, busy parents and a love for the Lord that calls them to go deeper for the sake of one adorable little boy in The Philippines who has some special needs. This particular boy stole the heart of every one of my family members on the last trip. He is cuteness personified. He is the favorite of every visitor. He is the non biological brother of our Francis, who loves him and is so thrilled that he will have his own family soon.
This is a family of "average Joes". They could use our help. Please consider heading over to their blog to make ANY size donation (http://bindmywanderingheart.wordpress.com/). They have stepped out in faith, trusting that God will pay for what He has ordered. They are counting on the body of Christ to help get their son here. They'll gladly do the raising, the feeding, the training, the late-night comfort. They need US to help get him here!!

BLESSING OPTION #2:
There is an astounding, large family made up of children from many, many countries. This family opens their doors to hard-to-place children. They keep sibling groups from being disassembled. They tirelessly seek the "least of these", scoop them up and claim them.
This family has more than 20 children but does not feel complete. They are, once again, pursuing children who have nobody to call "Mama" or "Daddy". Their newest children come from Ghana, Africa. The infant of this group has some significant challenges. This family stands at the ready! They say "bring it on" and prepare, once again, to offer children the permanency that they need to thrive.
Will you pray about extending your hand?
http://gillispiefam.blogspot.com/2012/03/walking-by-faith-efuas-family.html?m=1
Cut and paste the link above into your browser for more information on helping this family.

Not every Believer is called to adoption. But we are all commanded to care for the orphan (James 1:27). Here are two opportunities right before you.

What say you?



Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's a New Thing!

For those who have been long-time readers (or started reading with Adoption Disruption: the Down and Dirty), I just wanted to offer a quick update for encouragement.

What I feared most since posting my "Cautious Corner Turning" and "More of This" has happened. Our son got into trouble for being deceptive last night. It was a minor infraction. He turned a TV show while two little brothers were in the middle of it and he took the remote with him to the restroom so they could not turn it back.

It was selfish. It was sneaky.

My heart sank when little brother came and tattled.

I HAD to confront the behavior and I prayed it would not end up in a lie or crying jag. That is the normal pattern. As predictable as a Twilight book, as regular as the phases of the moon . . .

But the cycle broke.

He hung his head, apologized, admitted it was wrong, unkind and selfish WITH NO PROMPTING and he returned the remote to little brother and subjected himself willingly to "Penguins of Madagascar".

There was sincerity in the air! It smells like lilacs and Reece's cups (ha ha).

I asked him to come talk to me and I told him I was NOT proud of the remote sneaking and channel changing but I was OVERLY proud of him taking responsibility and making it right when confronted. He wrapped me in a giant big-kid hug and just said "thank you".

I KNEW he would mess up eventually. Everyone does. Me. You. Everyone but Jesus.
What I didn't know was if the mess up would result in the ugly patterns of RAD coming back with a vengeance. It didn't! I praise the Lord. I love that he can mess up in a relatively normal way and humbly take correction. That is a skill that will serve him so well in life.

Shoot. I could use a little brushing up there myself.

NOBODY over reacted and nobody held a grudge. It was a beautiful mess.
An accidental blessing.

Lord, You are good! You heal. You restore. Even when we're faithless, YOU are faithful! I can't waste my time wishing we had gotten here five and half years ago.

Regret is futile and we're here NOW.

So glad I didn't miss it. So, so glad . . .

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Worthy Cause

I'm proud to be an adoption advocate!
I run in circles of people with whom I share this passion.
Often I am overwhelmed and inundated with the impassioned pleas that find their way to my computer screen.

Yes, I want Joseph Kony, the Ugandan thug and perpetrator of genocide to be caught and punished.

Yes, I want every child with Down Syndrome to find a loving home and not languish in an institution.

I want AIDS/ HIV to be eradicated. I would love to help find a cure.

Based on the recent passing away of my beautiful grandmother (to cancer), it would thrill me if a cure for cancer were discovered and the hospice center that made her last days so bearable was awarded millions of dollars somehow.

I desperately want to see prayer allowed back into our public schools and true, Biblical morality restored to our country.

I am in great danger of becoming a victim of diluted efforts.

I remember when my husband and I took Dave Ramsey's "Financial Peace University" together. Dave clearly stressed that we were to attack ONE DEBT at a time with a vengeance. He highlighted how dividing up our funds and paying the same on each debt results in diluted efforts. Nothing gets "paid off" and everything stays pretty much the same.

I can see myself doing this in the causes I long to support. They are all GOOD things. They are all vehicles for the sharing of the gospel and things that I believe the people of God should be investing in.

But I don't want to dilute my efforts.

Does that mean when friends are fund raising for their various passions, I should say "no" to all who do not support the things I hold dear? No! God's word tells us to give to all who have need, and not to hold back.

What I don't want to do is be a valiant, well-intentioned beggar, always asking for donations to one cause or another, flip flopping in my scope to the cause of the day but never sticking with anything long enough to develop roots.

For me, Philippine adoption of waiting children is what makes my heart beat fast. It's a topic of conversation I have to be careful not to dominate when it comes up. It's a place I feel confident in the knowledge that God has given me. It's a country I love. It's a place where beautiful children with fairly low instances of institutional abuse takes place (yes, it happens there, too sadly) and everything about this country, people and culture is precious to me. I have trouble understanding why anyone would look anywhere else for their child - but I know that is my own passion and bias talking.

God calls us all to different passions to accomplish The Great Commission and meet the needs of the poor, orphaned and widowed of the world.

Ask Him to show you your passion! Ask Him to light a fire in your heart that can only be quenched by walking in your calling! Ask Him to use YOUR life to change someone else's life. Ask Him how YOU can make His name great right in your little corner of the world and across the globe.

Don't let The Enemy dilute your efforts and trick you into ineffectual service.
Life's too short and the needs are too great.

What is your God-given passion???? Walk in it!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

More of THIS

After more than a month of smooth sailing with our "RADish", I feel I can safely type that the corner has not only been turned but is firmly in our rear-view mirror!
For more than a month, we have been without:
1. lies
2. sneaky behavior being uncovered
3. long crying jags of an unknown origin (or any crying, really)
4. emails or phone calls from concerned teachers about various transgressions
5. adults overhearing unsavory talk or unkindness to the youngers

We continue to praise the Lord for his new mercies! I know His word says His mercies are new every morning but for us, it feels like the verse should read "new every six years".

As I mentioned in a previous post, every professional we have read or consulted has
assured us that Reactive Attachment Disorder is an incurable plight with a dismal prognosis. I don't pretend to know more than any expert. I DO know what's happening inside our home and it is starting to look like a cure to me!! Our gracious God repeatedly has done more than we asked or imagined in paying for our adoptions, providing for the needs of our family, guiding us in a plethora of parenting issues, opening doors for service for us and even healing loved ones of illnesses . . . why would I ever think for a moment He would withhold healing our son? He wouldn't if it was His will to do so.

Lemuel is so much more than just a kid with RAD. I fear that when I blog, I fail to communicate that properly. He is a caring big brother, a star athlete, a hard worker, a loving son and he has the kind of perseverance that most people covet.
With the RAD-colored glasses removed, I am able to see him as so much more than the sum total of my heartache allowed.

He talked to me today out of the blue about one of his former placements. We were standing at the sink and he said "Mrs. 'Smith' lied to me". I asked him what he meant by that seemingly random statement.

He replied "she said when they dropped me off at the hospital they were coming back to get me but the next day they came to tell me they weren't keeping me. She's a liar".

My first reaction was to defend this woman who wanted very much to parent Lemuel but just didn't. She just didn't. He was tough to handle to be sure and she counted the cost and said "it's not worth it". (side note, it's ironic that his talk centers only around the mother in this case. There was a father. A "nice dad" according to my son).

Rather than defending her, I just agreed with him. It seemed the right thing to do plus, I've never spoken to her. I don't know why she threw in the towel after six months. I can only guess. He was a tough case.
He went on to thank me for not giving up and assured me that he knew God wanted him with us and that's why things didn't work out in the other families... Seeing his rejections through the plan of a Sovereign God is the only way for a child to make sense of what has happened to him. And it makes sense because it's true.

One more brick laid in a brand new foundation for a child who has been here such a long time but really just arrived . . .

SIX YEARS!

I can't promise a single one of you who are walking the RAD path that in six years, you will see great progress with your child. I can promise you that many parents give up before the harvest and they miss something wonderful.

Can you hang in there just a little longer? One more week? Two more months? Just a year or so? It seems too much to ask when you're in the fray, doesn't it?
It is. I would have taken ANY out that seemed reasonable at the lowest of times. I would have sent him back to his country if that was allowed. In fact, I remember praying that I would be diagnosed with some terrible illness so that I could disrupt the adoption and blame it on my own sickness. It would have felt legitimate. People do it all the time.
Thank you, Jesus, for NOT answering THAT prayer.

Instead, the bigger prayers of my heart were answered. For six years, my prayers were for God to infuse me with genuine, heartfelt, I-would-die-for-you love for this child so I could stick it out through the hardest of times. He fed me that love piecemeal, just enough for the day but never in enough abundance for me to let down my guard and stop clinging to Him like a life raft in a tidal wave.

I prayed for REAL connection to Lemuel so I could know that I have his heart. I prayed for him to trust us enough to know that we're not taking our last name from him when he messes up.

But ultimately, as much as this journey is teaching me, it's not ABOUT me much at all. It's about the value of one life - Lemuel's. It's about trusting our Heavenly Father when it seems we've lost hold of His hand. It's about sharing with anyone who will listen that God is faithful and more than able!

But to him, a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is like a day.

Sometimes the hard times felt like they lasted a LITERAL thousand years.
And there may be more to come. . .

But I have blessed assurance that God is bringing about His purpose in His time and in His way.

We always said "use us, Lord . . . take our lives and do what you want"

It appears He took us up on the offer.

I am so glad He did!


Lem (left) and Ky (right) on paddle boats at our agency picnic

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Keeping the Coals Stoked

I watched a documentary on Netflix today that both horrified and energized me at the same time. It is called " Triage, Humanitarian Dilemma: Dr. James Orbinski" or something close to that. Dr. Orbinski is a Canadian doctor, devoted father and lover of the poor and downtrodden people of Africa. If you have Netflix and want God to shake you right out of your complacency regarding the suffering that goes on around the globe, THIS is the documentary for you!
The last movie I watched was another documentary called "Small Voices" about street children in Cambodia. It, too, was an eye opening journey into the lives of those the word of God calls all Believers to minister to - the poor, the widows, the fatherless.
I have a love/hate relationship with documentaries such as the ones I just mentioned. I love the way they keep my heart tender for those in need around the world. I love how they open my eyes to those who suffer and struggle simply for survival. I hate how helpless these shows make me feel. I think about them for days. As I care for my family, I think about the mothers I saw on the screen, emaciated women, trying to nurse skeletal infants. I bemoan my need to lose 25 pounds and get back on the treadmill but realize that my "problem" is strictly FIRST WORLD. So small. Nothing, really.
There are two things I am always seeking my Heavenly Father about. The first is that the story of what Christ did on the cross is something I would never grow cold about - that it would always move and overwhelm me when I hear it. The second is that I would never be able to turn a blind eye to the suffering of other humans and go on, unaffected, if I can help in some way.
So far, He has proven faithful on both accounts.
I asked these things of Him years ago and had no idea how they would look in reality. If I had known, I may not have asked. Too late.
I can not contain my tears when I hear a song, read an account or hear a sermon about Calvary. I used to be unmoved as a teen and young woman. I felt grateful for what Jesus endured for my sake but accepted it and moved on. Not anymore.

I grew up with NO heart for the poor, the foreigner, the orphan or the widow. I remember making jokes about starving Africans as a young, stupid teen. I vividly recall thinking, when I saw hungry children on television with flies buzzing around their encrusted eyes and mouths "their parents should have used birth control". I had so little understand of the gift of life. Such short-sighted views of my role as a professing Believer in Christ. THOSE people that seemed so very different from me - so responsible for their situations - were just like me.

In the book of Revelation, God chastises the church at Laodecia for thinking they are rich when they are, in reality, "poor, blind, wretched, pitiful, poor and naked". I was likely MORE poor, blind, wretched, pitiful, poor and naked than those I stood in such superior judgement over.

The tender heart is something God cultivated in me after motherhood. After HE showed me the mystery of loving someone more than myself, He began to drive that love deeper and stretch it out to include those not of my bloodline. Only God can make someone as selfish as I was (and sometimes am) into a lover of strangers. Miracle of mercy! Proof He is REAL! Grace gift!

I dare you, fellow sojourners, ask the Lord to make your heart break for what breaks His. Ask him to keep your coals burning and your fire stoked for the calling that He has placed on your life.

Once you do, He will. And there is no going back. Never the same! Changed for the better! Pounded to dust for the sake of the gospel but fully renewed for the work!