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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!





Monday, August 13, 2012

Called to Care

I have come to the freeing realization that I can not cause anyone to care about anything.
I can use persuasive words, impassioned pleas, heart-wrenching photos - I can even set those photos to touching music in a slide show - but I can not reach into anyone's chest, squeeze his heart, and make him care about the things I care about.

Nor should I.

This seems the most obvious string of sentences on the planet and yet, as we prepare to launch our family onto the mission field, it only just occurred to me. I am freed by such a notion.

It is not my job to endear Believers to our cause. That is solely the work of the Holy Spirit!


YES!!!!

As our web site is having it's final face lift and we prepare to unveil the full scope of our mission in The Philippines, it is with a great burden lifted that the failure or success of our mission does not depend on ME choosing the right configuration of words and photographs, designed to make my friends and total strangers give of their money or come serve along with us, that we move forward.

Just like the rest of this gig, it's NOT ABOUT ME!

I am faced, daily, with photographs on my facebook news feed of beautiful orphans who need families. I am moved by the needs of the poor as their stories come to me through various blogs. I was recently undone by a youtube video called "Cry Freetown" in which a journalist embedded with the RUF captures executions of innocent Sierra Leonians, even children, with his lens (warning:that video is NOT for the faint of heart and certainly not for children - if you view it, do so with this in mind).
The scope of these needs and the suffering around the world can make one little Believer feel completely inadequate.
Which cause to choose? Which is nearest and dearest to our hearts? To His?

It can make us throw up our hands and say "I will never make much of a difference" and bury our heads in the sands of work, shopping, child rearing and entertainment.

And so it goes . . .

But the Lord has called His Church, His beautiful bride to extend her hand to orphans, widows, the poor, the oppressed, the lost and the wounded.

She needs to walk in this calling to be whole. The same way a bird needs to fly or an itch needs to be scratched. The church of Jesus is called to care. Not because God is unable to assuage suffering without us, but because He has prepared "good work" for us to do before He created the world (Eph. 2:10).

Caring for others fulfills our purpose and makes the name of our Savior great.

What Believer doesn't want an abundant life and to know he made a mark for Jesus during this short stint on Earth?

And because I know these things: that the church is called to care, that Believers innately want to make a mark for Christ, that the Holy Spirit prompts us to give and serve, that there are enough "causes" out there for every Believer to join and support, that we are leaning in closely to hear what He has for us to do, I can rest.

I can't make you care enough to support us on the mission field. I don't have the power to draw anyone to pack a suitcase and fly half way around the world to touch a child otherwise rejected.

But Jesus does.

And when He moves you, I pray you will act swiftly - no delays - so you can reap the benefits of walking in obedience.

I pray we do the same.

We are called to care. I am. You are.

And THAT'S really living!



Monday, August 6, 2012

Jealousy

From time to time, people we meet who learn of our family composition will share sweet words about their feelings for what we're doing. It's hard to know how to take compliments and I often just deflect them by saying how thankful we are that God has called us to adoption. It's true. We are.

The comment that makes me smile most is "you sure are a giving person".

"No, not really", I think.

It's a sweet sentiment but our pursuit of adoption was 90% selfish and 10% altruistic for me. But it was also 100% obedience to what we know Jesus has asked.

I am a greedy, jealous Mama. I love to be adored by my kids. I am greedy for their affection. I have to be #1 in their hearts (besides Jesus) and I am the LAST person who is looking for a mentor, "big brother/sister" or stand in Grandma for my kids. Sure, it's great if they forge a friendship with their youth leaders or think their friends' parents are "cool" but the buck stops there.

These kids are ALL MINE (well, and their Dad's but still . . .).

I think I am the mother version of a possessive girlfriend - a little stalkerish but for reasons I feel are justified. These kids are funny, smart and beautiful. Certainly someone out there must be out to steal their hearts from me . . . right?

I don't know why I am like this or where this ferocity comes from but it has NOT diminished as my children grow older. It might be a little worse. I see members of the opposite gender being flirty with my older kids or eyeballing them in public and while I'm sure this behavior is perfectly normal, it makes me want to yank the "starer" up by the shirt collar and say "may I help you?" about two inches from his/her face (and I won't have an altoid, either)!

I know these kids will marry someday and I may not be invited on the honeymoon. I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it.

But for now, I'm just going to revel in having all of these terrific people under my roof where we can have lots of dinners together, play cards, watch movies, travel and enjoy each other for a little longer.

I love the time spent with my prodigy. There has been hard work invested in their characters and training and as they get older, we see the hard work coming to fruition. They are amazing! Despite our missteps and the things we could have done better, they are superb individuals! That's Jesus . . .Faithful God going before us.

I am not giving. I'm greedy.

But isn't HE jealous for us? Doesn't HE look at our hearts and say "back away, you idols, that's MY daughter and her heart belongs to ME"?

In Exodus 20:5, God tells the Israelites:
"You shall not bow down to idols or serve them for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God . . ."

In Ezekiel 5 (a harsh chapter, I must say) God again tells His people that He is jealous for their affections.

I know my "jealousy" for the hearts of my children is not the perfect, sinless jealousy that God feels for us. The parallel falls short where my sinful nature starts - immediately.

But when I think of the shoddy, imperfect love I have for these kids HE has entrusted to me, I am humbled that His perfect, never-giving-up, always-forgiving, heart-pursuing love is so much more.

And He has the rights. He paid a high price for me. He owns me. I am His.

Let me never follow after lesser things, Father.

Thank You for being so jealous. You confound me, Father . . .