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Monday, February 25, 2013

The Ugly Love

There is an ugly side to adoption.    A side many hesitate to mention.  An aspect of "growing your family" that those of us who have done it only share with those we know are SOLD . . . so as not to discourage those who are "considering" . . . 

It is the ugly side of love.   It's the part of loving a child from a hard place that comes in the same package as the beautiful smile and the million-dollar hugs.  

And it is spelled S-A-C-R-I-F-I-C-E...  

I see it lived out on the blogs of my adoptive-Mama cyber friends.  They go to dirty, dark places and embrace children who smell bad, who have rotten teeth and who are afraid of them. Children who are rejecting the unknown, unaware of the fact that it is what they have been waiting for their whole lives.

I see it in one of my "hero Mamas" who has adopted such damaged children . . . and lost some
To suicide.
To mental institutions.
To disease.     But she would not go back and unknow those children if she could.  Because they experienced the joy of being found, even if for a short time. 

And I think about the beautiful little girl who is a lot older than she looks, who died yesterday in an Eastern European mental institution because she has . . . .
Down Syndrome.    And part of me wants to point at everyone I know and scream "WHY DIDN'T YOU SAVE HER??? OR YOU?  OR YOU?" 

Or me?

If only we had known she was dying, we would have moved mountains to claim her, right?

And my mind goes to those children my family met on the most recent trip for The Bartimeaus Project . . .
And it wonders. . .
Are they loved?  Treasured? Do they know that they were made in the image of God and that serving them feels like standing on Holy Ground?

Too old for adoption.
Too disabled to have been chosen.
Not "productive" members of society.

Just beautiful humanity created for a different purpose . . . that's all.

And as my husband evaluated this little one, an orphan until somebody says differently, did she realize that she matters so much to us.  That I can't stop thinking about her?  That I pray that she is a favorite of her caregivers and that somebody is rocking her? Singing to her? Putting a bow in her hair and letting her feel kisses all over her face? 

It is the ugly side of love.   The knowledge that we can not save every child. The understanding that we will SEE and yet be helpless to ACT some of the time.  This is what plagues me and robs my sleep.   This is what has me asking "why not her?"  and "why not him?" and "why not all of them?".
But already knowing the answer . . .

What is the difference between that sweet girl in her crib in Eastern Europe and my own adopted treasures?
The difference is SACRIFICE.  We saw. We claimed. We worked. We went.  He meant the world to us from the day we saw his photo.  We noticed and we acted.  Not because we are so marvelous but because Our Father is!
And when that boy jumped up on my bed today, full of pride that he had put on his own pants (albeit backwards) the logical reaction was to grab the camera, take a photo and treasure that little gain.

Every child deserves to have his achievements celebrated . . . EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
But not every child will, because the cost is so high.
We are afraid to commit.
We are afraid to pay.
We are afraid to travel.
We are afraid to risk the status quo in our nests.

The PEOPLE of God so often don't trust the promises of God enough to walk in their callings.

Is God calling YOU to risk ugly love?  To sacrifice? To  adore a child who will not know what to do with that adoration for a long time?  To be rejected? Pushed away? Spit upon?  Is He asking you to
put yourself away and do the hard things? 

He would never ask you to go somewhere He hasn't been Himself.
He committed.
He paid.
He traveled.
He risked.
Because love is sacrifice.

"Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends."
                                                                                    John 15:13


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Look What You've Done!

Just a short time ago, the director of The Bartimaeus Project and his wife were in The Philippines.

They were able to check up on a few of the children being served by The Bartimaeus Project and I'd like to give you a little glimpse into just how those sweet babies are doing today!

I'm sure you'll remember our friend "F" who was being evaluated for extropia and suspected congenital glaucoma . . .

Here is "F" on Evaluation Day back in December 2012 when he was being evaluated for services through The Bartimaeus Project

And although I haven't figured out just how to rotate this brand new photo of "F", you can clearly see the improvement in his condition after just a few weeks of a patching regimen and, so far, no surgery!  The Project will keep watch on this little one with regular check ups and make sure his care home has all the resources they need to sustain this progress.

And there's no doubt that our readers remember little "Ella". The outpouring of questions about her (and offers to adopt her) have astounded us!  She is deaf and in need of hearing aids. We shared her need and within a VERY short time, God pricked the hearts of several women to ban together and provide . . . 

......HEARING AIDS!!!!!!! She is holding the box in her hands that went from a sweet friend in North Carolina to me (at a mom's night out in a restaurant) to Pennsylvania, into a suitcase headed to Manila and into her precious little hands! How's that for God using the "natural" to do amazing works??? This child's life has been changed - the complete trajectory moved- by these simple acts of obedience on the part of some Mamas who love Him and love children! Something tells me this little one won't be an orphan for much longer!!!

Here is an updated shot of our sweet girlie with the cysts/tumors on her eyes.  Even with Reece's Peanut Butter Cup on her face, she is beyond adorable!  She is in the process of receiving a second opinion on whether surgery is the best option for her condition.  She is receiving great care in her care home, medications and, most importantly being shown the love of Jesus by a very dedicated staff.   We look forward to tracking her progress on her journey toward restored vision and know that God has BIG plans for this little one!

Our family longs to make the leap to living among these children and the many many like them, who need someone to shine a spotlight on their darkening vision!

Thank you to all of our donors and sponsors for making this follow-up trip possible. . . for helping us put hearing aids in the hands of that beauty and patches on the eyes of that handsome young man. . . for allowing us to see, face to face, the little chocolate-covered miracle who we will do all we can to assist!    Without your giving, we simply can't go.

If you are considering investing in the lives of these precious ones, and others like them who wait, please make a tax-deductible gift to The Bartimaeus Project ( HERE ) and equip us to serve more children. 

And if you are willing to dedicate a few minutes to praying for The Bartimaeus Project, here are some specific ways we would love for you to pray:
1. That our grant applications are met with favor . . . quickly!
2. That God leads us to the children who need us the most and gives us wisdom and strength to
    meet their needs while sharing the good news of Jesus Christ
3. For doors to open with doctors in The Philippines who are skilled in pediatric visual issues
4. For our family's relocation to The Philippines to be in His timing
5. For God to send workers to join us on short-term mission trips and help us carry the load

Thank you! For giving. For praying. For sharing. For caring about children you are not obligated to care for.  

For HIS Great Fame,

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Moving to Move

Today we received a rare Saturday gift from above . . . .
a snow day!!!
I realize to those of you living in the Northeast, Northwest and other places arctic, this amount of snow is nothing more than a small annoyance but to us, here in the South, it's a HUGE event! Sports  are canceled!  Some stores don't open! Plans change and people of all ages rush to the grocery store to buy up  the bread and milk for fear they may be stranded for TWO WHOLE DAYS!

So we stayed home.

But with the Big Move to The Philippines looming, we could not afford to snuggle and drink hot chocolate.  We had to get some work done on this beloved home so we can put her on the market.

Dad and Lem sand and paint the banister 

Aaron paints closet doors

Francis sands and paints closet trim

Ky keeps our busy little Ezekiel occupied and away from the paint, tools, and other dangers while we work

Elliana hides out with her computer so as not to attract attention and be given a task . . . ha ha . . .

And there's nothing like a mess of a house filled with tarps, brushes, drills and boxes to light a fire in my heart for the change that is on the horizon. Kind of how the smell of jet fuel at the airport makes me long to go somewhere, anywhere, even if I'm just there to pick up a friend.

It's all so very real to me today.  And I'm filled with the kind of anticipation I feel before we meet one of our children for the first time.  His peace is present on what should be an absolutely daunting and terrifying dimly-lit path.

My heart says "bring it on" and my brain says "you have no idea what you're getting into".

And they are both right  but my spirit says "trust Him who has already done immeasurably more than all you have asked or imagined". . . and I say "yes".

Maybe I'm living in a fantasy world? The project sending us is not fully funded. I hate to fly. We are living out our last weeks in this country without a church family. My husband has no paying job right now.
There are still a million and one tasks before us and we have just signed a lease on our home in The Philippines.   Shouldn't I be afraid?    Worrying?  Stressing out?  Looking with natural eyes and declaring it can not be done? That it's too much work?

To each one of those "negatives" listed above, my Father has already answered and provided!
He is working, even now, on every angle and He who has called is faithful.

Always has been.

Always will be.

And His beautiful word rings truth to my heart and wraps me in the knowledge that what might look disjointed, ill-timed or chaotic to the casual observer is the fulfillment of His plan and purpose in ways that we did not expect.

"His sovereignty rules over all" Psalm 103:19

Words to live by.   Words to move by . . . 

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Last Call For Families!!!!!!!

Share Your Summer 2013 is Christan Adoption Service's Philippine host program.

This program has set out to help beautiful older children from The Philippines find their families.

There are still a few boys in need of a family to commit to hosting them and, the deadline is
TOMORROW at 5pm!   You don't have to pay all the hosting fees by tomorrow but you do need
to select the child you feel led to host (with the goal of adoption in mind) and let Jim or Jenica at the agency know your intent.

Here's a little about the six boys who need YOU:

John is a 12 year old young man who has been hosted once before.  Through NO FAULT OF HIS OWN, the host family was unable to adopt him but the host mother is more than willing to talk to any interested parties.  He was a wonderful addition to their home and she hoped it would be forever.
John likes basketball and gardening.  He acts as a big brother to the younger children in his orphanage.

Daniel is 12 and oh-so-handsome! He enjoys all types of dance and he comes from a children's home that is truly Christ-centered.  I have a friend who recently visited Daniel at his children's home and has only wonderful things to say about him!

Raydelle is extremely cute and looks a bit younger than his 13 years.  He is very coordinated and likes to play all kinds of games.  He enjoys church activities and going to camp.  His bright smile fills the picture I have of him!  He is such a cute boy!

Sonny is fourteen and, no bias intended but he is my personal favorite!  If our family was not moving, we would be looking to adopt this young man.  There is something so endearing about this boy and his life story is very painful to read.  Despite a difficult early life, Sonny has become a young man with many gifts. He plays drums and guitar. He likes to cook and he is described as "shy" and "quite" by his caregivers.  Of course, he is so very handsome and in his picture, you can tell he really is shy.

Jerome is 14 and plays drums in his church band.  He relates well to the other children in his center
and his favorite food is spaghetti.  He is described as "polite" by those who know him.  He looks like one of the "hidden jewels" God has given to us . . . it's hard to know such a great kid still waits and comes dangerously close to that 16-year mark where adoption is no longer an option for him.

13 year old Jason is an accomplished artist (drawing) and also likes to sing, dance and play basketball.  He especially enjoys singing at church. Jason is respectful to his caregivers and really enjoys science.  Forgive the "broken record" editorial here but Jason is a very VERY handsome young man.

Hosting is expensive . . .(about $3,500 per child) and inconvenient (it takes up about a month of your summer) but for these young men who wait, it is a lifeline to a brighter future!  These boys don't need to come to the US to get a glimpse of "the good life".  Many of them have relatively good lives in their care homes.  The children in Philippine orphanages, more often than not, receive good care.
They are fed, clothed, educated and often attend church regularly. There tends to be a low staff-to-child ratio and a low turn-over among staff.  The circumstances that bring the children into care  are most often poverty related, death or incarceration of parents and inability of extended family to provide for the children.  But every story is different.  The information provided to interested families is thorough and, in our experience with four different adoptions from four different orphanages, accurate.

Adopting from The Philippines is a straightforward process with no bribes or hidden "fees" like a family may experience in some countries.  English is widely spoken in and around Manila and travel in country can be as little as five days (although I recommend staying longer. There is SO much to see, do and EAT in that wonderful place that you won't want to leave too quickly).

If you feel God pricking your heart for one of these precious boys, DO NOT WAIT!!
Contact Christian Adoption Services immediately! The deadline is just one day away!

It won't be easy but I can promise you one thing . . . it WILL be worth it!

                                                 The first meeting between me and our newest son, adopted at age 15

Friday, February 1, 2013

Little Sadnesses, Bigger Joys

I'm have so many conflicting thoughts I want to organize into a cogent post. This may not be the one . . . .

I think of a hundred amazing observations I can't wait to share on my blog - when I'm behind the wheel of my car or sitting in the dentist's chair with a sucky straw hanging from the corner of my mouth,  or up to my elbows in ground beef making dinner for this hungry herd.

Oh, yes, the things I want to share with all of you . . .

There are small things like:
I grew up believing that slim jims were encased in sheep intestine and only recently found out they aren't. They are edible collagen casings.
When tracking our progress on the C25K app, my friend and I discovered we cover just about as much ground walking as we do running.  We are either painfully slow runners or lightening-fast walkers. I prefer the latter.

There are big thing like:
We are just a couple of months away from full-time mission service in The Philippines and my heart is ready but my house is not.  Deciding what to keep, store, sell and give away is not a simple task.
We are heartbroken over recently having to leave a church we have loved for years. But we had to in order to be true to our convictions and to send a strong message to our children.  And I feel like the sadness just sticks around like an heirloom necklace - too valuable to put in some box but too ugly to wear...

I feel blessed and lucky but also overwhelmed and inadequate.
 Aren't we all those things much of the time?  

So with all the jumbled-up, frenetic, impossible-to-ignoredness, I go to where I am grounded and sure.  The Word.

And I see comforts like:
"Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you". Hebrews 13:5
"The blessing of the Lord makes one rich and He adds no sorrow with it." Proverbs 10:22
"And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

So I am struck by the notion that all the things I want to share don't amount to much unless they exhort, encourage and point to the Lover of My Soul.

And the sadness and heartache over the temporary are inevitable but shrink to smallness when held up next to the everlasting Word.   I can not fathom walking life's road without knowing My Savior. How do people cope? Where do they turn for steadfast guidance? Comfort? Help in times of trouble?

To Oprah? Dr. Phil? A therapist? A friend equally lost?  A bottle? Workaholism?

So, this little stream of consciousness might read a bit flighty because that's how I'm feeling as of late.  But it all comes full circle to the one who holds me close in times of clarity and times of confusion - and teaches me that the "big picture" is not something I always have to understand up front.  

And I'm happy to rest in Him and not "advise" Him as I am so prone to do.

He is doing fine without my advice and I am learning to be led.

Through little sadnesses . . . and bigger joys . . .