our work

Thursday, January 30, 2014

"If We Are The Body . . ."

The title of this blog post is taken from a Christian song by the same name, written by Mark Hall for Casting Crowns sometime around 2002.   You may remember the chorus, that says something along the lines of . . .

I heard it for the first time "back in the day" and,  frankly, was annoyed by it.  I thought it was too cynical. I felt like maybe the writer was talking about his own church, but not MINE.   I felt sad that the people most convicted by it would likely be the ones pouring themselves out for the lost and yet, feeling that they aren't doing enough.

I am now singing this song right along with my youtube Casting Crowns video (with lyrics, of course) and asking if we, all of us, even me, really ARE doing all we can in the body of Christ?  And if we are, why am I staring eyeball to eyeball with SO many orphans every single day?

And on top of that gripping frustration, I have an overwhelming fear. . .


What do I mean by that?   Do you remember how, in the "old days", when a car alarm would sound, everyone would look, wonder and react?  Now-a-days, we don't even turn around in a crowded parking lot to see who's car alarm is sounding.

Is the plight of the orphan going the way of the car alarm?   We used to be moved to tears by the faces of the children in orphanages. We used to step out in faith to open our homes to children who we knew might be damaged beyond our parenting skill set.  We did this without enough money, enough room or enough bunk beds . . . but we did it because they were there and we are blessed.  We did this in spite of the fact that our own biological progeny might have to step aside for awhile and get over themselves.   

And some of you still are.  I fear your numbers are shrinking as you are still redeeming, serving, opening . BUT . . .

In walks "orphan care", telling us that adoption is not for everyone and if we just box up our old clothes and shoes and mail them to Haiti or Guatemala or The Philippines, we have fulfilled James 1:27 because we're "looking after orphans".  And we ARE!  We, on the front lines, do not want you to stop participating in orphan care.  Adoption is NOT right for every family.  But I believe it is right for many who are running the other way because it's expensive and messy and so unbelievably risky.

WHY has our beloved adoption agency in the states (www.christianadopt.org) had such a hard time finding families for just 12 children slated to come to the US for summer hosting?   WHY does a beautiful 12 year old boy in my Saturday class not have a long line of families hoping to adopt him? Or even a couple?

Is it because consciences are assuaged by "orphan care"?  How better to "care" for an orphan than to be the ones to remove that stigma and make him a "son" ?  What shows MORE love of humanity than calling her "daughter" who was once rejected?  

Let me assure you of a few things if you decide that God is calling your family to serve orphans in this way:
1. You WILL bite off more than you can chew
2. You WILL question your decision a thousand times after your child comes home
3. Your life WILL get exponentially harder when you bring a once-abandoned child into a loving home
4. Your biological children WILL suffer in some ways - but grow and flourish in others
5. You WILL want to find the blog writer who pushed you over the edge toward adoption and have a few words with her (ha ha)
6. You MIGHT have to make decisions about whether keeping your new child is worth it. And you will be unlikely to ever face such dark, painful choices in life again
7. You MIGHT struggle to encourage others to adopt because it's so darn hard, but you'll look at your child and realize adoption is a good thing.  And you'll still encourage others
8. You MIGHT find that blessings come in unexpected ways and your own walk with Christ EXPLODES with "realness" as you walk the path of an adoptive parent.
9. You MIGHT lean on your spouse more than you ever have before, and strengthen that marriage in new ways
10. You MIGHT understand concepts like selflessness, going above and beyond, faking it until you make it, putting your own needs way down the priority list and "growing" into love rather than having it thrust upon you.

But never forget, that He who has called you is faithful.  He is oh, so faithful, friends!  He pays for what He orders, He gives us our daily bread, He makes us more than we thought we could be for the sake of His great name and His own glory.  Some of these things, I am sure I never would have known up close if it had not been for our adoptions - both the smooth ones and especially the bumpy ones. 
I know that, personally, I have so far to go in knowing Him and in fulfilling the responsibility He has given us toward orphans. 
So far,  I have barely stepped foot onto the path. 

How about YOU?  Are you called and running?  Are you certain you are among those for whom adoption is not the right path? Do you even know what His word says about Believers and Orphans?  There's a free adoption Bible study at the web site of Home For Good Foundation (www.hfgf.org) that might set your feet toward whatever God has for you.   No matter where He leads, my prayer is that your are always moved to reach out.  That orphans are NOT the car alarm in your church and in your life.

They are real, living, breathing children who long to be claimed.  They wait, growing a little older each day and understanding a little more fully their plights.

Consider it, my friends.  Ponder it.  Seek and Ask.  Be intentional.
Most of all, do not fear . . . 




Saturday, January 25, 2014

My There-You-Are Kids

This post is likely going to be a little disjointed and will most certainly NOT satisfy a reader who has come here looking for a ministry update.

I often struggle with how much to share on the blog. In years past, I would have had no trouble opening my heart and letting the contents spill all over this site.  But right now, today, I am a missionary.   I want to be careful that this adoption/ministry/Mama's heart blog is just as authentic as it ever was but also that it never disparages the ministry under which we serve.

But at this very moment, I have to throw caution to the wind and share something that has happened and my downright unspiritual, self absorbed, childish reaction to it.

If you are an adoptive parent, you may have experienced the unnerving phenomenon known as "love at first sight" with a child.
I have had this happen EVERY time we have adopted.  I would see my boy on the Special Homefinding list  and think "Oh, there he is. That's MY son.   Time to get the paperwork started . . . "

And EVERY TIME, he was ours.   My spirit knows my children.   Even before there are any guarantees.

I never even feared, with our 5 adopted treasures, that they were not mine.  Because they were. They are. Just the same as our two home-grown.

Grandma and Grandpa in The Philippines with us!
And now that we live in this country, where the children hold a unique place in my heart, I fully expected to "fall in love" again.  I was shocked when, as we began to serve in orphanages all around us, that did not happen.  I met child after child and waited for my there-you-are and it didn't happen.

I began to suspect that God was closing the door on our own home to more children and, instead, we would serve MANY and invest in the children here in a different way.  And I was fine with that.   Truly.   A little relieved, actually.

And then, my lightening bolt hit.   At a party we attended for a nearby orphanage.  A child came into the party so very quietly and put his head down at the table.  And not that it matters, but he was a very beautiful child.  I asked his name and age and gave him a craft to work on.   I know my hands were shaking because my there-you-are was in full swing.
I asked a caregiver about him and found out he was part of a small sibling group.  
And in walked younger sibling . . . There-You-Are . . . again.

But even more eerily, after the party, two of my own big kids noticed these children and said they should be ours. Oh, my joy!!!!

Because we serve children with special needs at this location, we visit fairly often. Each time I saw these siblings,  it was confirmed in my heart that they were our kids.  Their names, their faces, their ages . . . perfectly matched to our family. 

In typical "when our family adopts" fashion, I approached my husband.  In typical "my husband" fashion, he was hesitant but willing to pray about it.  Being the provider carries with it innate fears.  I get that.

As hubby began to warm to the thought of these children coming into our home, I worked up the courage to ask their orphanage director if they were available for adoption.  

Her answer wrapped around my heart like a heavy frost . . . ."there is a  family pursuing them now . . . the paperwork is in process . .. etc etc".

This was only yesterday.  But I  am confused.  My There-You-Are has not been wrong before.   This was something I knew just the way I know my own.   I did not WANT to be drawn to these children!  I was not looking to add to our family and I still am not.  I'm open and willing to do whatever the Lord asks of us but am not "cruising" for more sons or daughters.   We have been blessed to overflowing with the ones we have.  Above and beyond.

 I am tossed between being so happy that these children will have a family to being downright jealous that it isn't mine to wondering, still, if they will find their way to us.

Anything can happen in the world of adoption.  Especially as it crosses country lines. Approvals are not a guarantee.

And that's a terrible thing for me to say.  I know.  Please show me grace.

I warned you.   Unspiritual.  Childish. Self-Absorbed.  

But Faithful God in His perfect timing let me hear the news of their impending adoption on a Saturday.
Today is Sunday.

I anticipate I will walk into church still a little sullen and out-of-joint.
And be convicted.
And learn to trust Him more.
And decide to let this one go . . .

New ground for an "experienced" Mama.  Always room to grow and change.
Hard lessons from a loving God.