Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmastime = Bribe or Blessing?

It never fails, as soon as the big holiday in October passes, I hear parents both in the stores and in cyber-land chatting about the excitement of Christmas. Sadly, more often than not though, instead of focusing on the BLESSING that Christmas brings, they are scheming up ways to use the next two months in BRIBING their kids toward good behavior. Someone was rather smart in taking advantage of this mentality and "helped" parents out by producing the ever-popular Elf on the Shelf.

It's no wonder why families struggle to enjoy the real meaning of Christmas. I've never really fully understood the logic in lying to my children when it's honesty I am striving for. Was St. Nick a real person? Yep, and we have told our children so. But we're unwilling to trade in the BLESSING of Christmas for BRIBERY.

Reality is that God is the one who really sees all that we do ... both good and bad. That is REAL stuff right there. Not some made up magic. Oh and how important it is for our children to know so. That sweet 'lil babe that was born long ago was born with a PURPOSE. To grow up and to die for you and for me, bearing all our sins, so that we might have LIFE. That, my friends, is the BLESSING of Christmas. A pure and wonderful gift for you and for me that we are entirely undeserving of. This is what I want my children to know about. This is what we long to celebrate. This is what changes lives.

I'd love to hear about how you teach your children the BLESSING of Christmas. Please share.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Thanksgiving Basket & The Provider

Nearly 15 years ago, we packed up all of our belongings, along with two little boys, and made the trek from Louisiana to Chicago. During a missions conference at our church, the Lord had led us to leave the Air Force and serve in full-time ministry. We didn't know what all that would entail, but we knew He'd spoken and we needed to respond. At some point during that move God blessed us with new life. While some I'm sure thought we were crazy, the Lord knew we'd need that bundle of absolute joy. A week before his birth though, my husband lost his part time job. It was his first semester at Bible college (after completing a semester at the local junior college) and not only were we about to fill up our tiny apartment with a growing family, we now had no job. I found comfort in looking back to how God had clearly directed our steps. We had to choose to trust Him, even if we couldn't see how things were going to work out.

I'll never forget the day we were notified that our family was receiving a Thanksgiving basket from the school. Isn't that just like God? To show up and make Himself known when we felt so lost and defeated. Not to mention we had two little boys excited for turkey dinner and we didn't know if there would be one that year. The boys were so excited when the basket arrived. I remember kneeling down with them, looking through all the contents and praying ..... "Lord help me to never forget your faithfulness." That thanksgiving basket would serve as a reminder to me during future difficult times that we have a PROVIDER.

As this Thanksgiving season approaches, my heart is heavy for those that need to know Him as PROVIDER. Not just for turkey dinner or clothing or medical care, but also as HOPE and LIFE and JOY. Two little children, whom I have never met {yet}, have made a way into my heart this week. They don't just need Thanksgiving dinner this year, they need a family. They need a safe place to heal and grow and blossom.

You know what is so amazing? These needs don't surprise the Father. He knew before the beginning of time every need. He knew when He gave these precious two children life that the day would come they would need another family. Brokenness, orphans, hunger .... that was not His design. We live in a fallen world though .... a place where suffering is a reality. He is still God. And He is PROVIDER.

I love spending the entire fall season focusing on Thanksgiving with my children. I often hear them share throughout the year what they are thankful for, but come September each year we start drawing in a little closer to really focus in on Thanksgiving. We celebrate the harvest and enjoy all the bustle in the fields of the rural land where we live. We pray for safety for those families who will put in long and rigorous hours. Come October we soak up all the glorious colors the Lord brings around us. And then as we near November we enjoy taking even more time to slow down and document all of the many blessings the PROVIDER has poured out.

This year we tried a new version of the Thanksgiving Tree. Our middle son enjoyed heading out to climb up and get me a nice big branch to bring in. We took turns writing down many of our blessings the Provider has poured out on us. As I sit here on the sofa, I can see the back side of the leaves where they are documented. Flowers, brothers, God, romance, apples, friends, Mtn Dew, silence, pizza, friends .... I chuckle knowing by the handwriting who wrote each one.

It is important to pause and reflect. It's important to remember things like the Thanksgiving basket. It's critical we stop and consider the children that need a family.

Are you taking time to pause this season .... to reflect on the blessings which have been poured out on you? Are you needing to know the Father as PROVIDER? Is God asking you to reach out beyond the walls of your home and serve?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Giving Thanks

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
his love endures forever."
Psalm 118:1

Thanksgiving to me is so much more than just the history of Pilgrims and Indians and feasting. It's something that should be going on day in and day out in the lives of our families. Not just when things are going well, but especially when things are NOT. It seems people are so quick to give thanks when all happens quickly. I cringe sometimes at the statement "God's perfect timing". Often as Christians we don't have trouble singing His praises when things are coming together well. What about when they don't? What about when the house DOESN'T sell, the job DOESN'T come through, the illness DOESN'T end in a cure, the orphan DOESN'T receive help in time, the bill DOESN'T get paid, the paperwork DOESN'T come through. What THEN?

Yesterday I had to come to terms with the fact we might not be able to get some intervention help with one of our kids for a very long time. A combination of few doctors in the area for this need and type of insurance was proving to look really grim. By the end of the day (and after some discouraging phone calls) I decided we must just press on with what we've being doing all long .... love/nurture our daughter to the best of our abilities and TRUST God with the outcome. Oh part of me wanted to climb up on a soap box and scream about rights. But the other part knew even MORE than that, I needed to trust the Lord.

My mind drifted back to how He had already proven Himself faithful in our daughter's life. Nearly 7 years ago she was born with some intense needs. She had a future of being a child in the US foster care system. Knowing what we know about her infancy and early childhood, we truly cannot imagine her in that system. BUT GOD! At the time of her conception, the Lord had been stirring in our hearts and directing our steps to her. We were in the midst of our own trauma. You can read about that here. So while I advocate for her today, it helps me to look back and see the fingerprints of her One True Advocate. The one capable of far more than I can ever imagine.

Today while we were in our morning school routine a call came from the nurse at our family doctor's office. For some reason she has not let up on helping us get the help we need. She's gone above and beyond. It seems part of that is from the time we've gotten to have with her building a relationship. She's put in countless calls for us and gotten drug down many a dead end over the last couple of months on behalf of our spunky girl. She's listened to our concerns and educated herself on things she was very unfamiliar with. How thankful we are for her! Even though we are told we can't get into the specialist we need to see until at least APRIL (yes, 6 MONTHS away), it has been a blessing knowing she cares.

Good news today was that she landed us a way into see an OT without the specialist referral (at least for starters). Then it became uncertain if that in fact was gonna fly. After the phone call we went back to "short e". And before my eyes I watched a miracle take place. My daughter, who has struggled for over two years to learn the sounds of letters started sounding out word after word to me with little assistance. I must have looked like a deer in headlights. I could hardly believe my eyes and ears. Over the last few months I have worked hard to believe that ONE day this day would come! One day, my daughter would READ. I wasn't sure honestly if that would even happen this year. Fifty-two words later, I believe it. She looked at me and said ... "Am I reading?". Yes, sweet girl, you are!!!

Next the phone rang again. It was the OT setting up therapy. All had gone through ... when would I like them to see her. Friday? As in two DAYS from now? Um ... SURE!, that would be GREAT! I knew they couldn't address all of our needs, but even getting started with the sensory issues would be a great help.

Then the phone rang AGAIN. This time the assistant to the specialist. Yeah, the one we were told we would not hear from until April! She called to find out our daughter's story. After I choked back some shock, I began telling her story. I now have instructions to call her back after OT on Friday to let her know what all I need to get the assistance & intervention necessary. SERIOUSLY? Alrighty then!

Sharing bits and pieces of this journey over Facebook has connected me with other moms who also face the sometimes weary journey of being an advocate for their child. Then I think of the children who HAVE no voice. What about THEM? Who speaks up for THEM? It happens right down the road ..... it happens around the globe.

November is Orphan Awareness Month. Children all over the world are waiting for someone to have ears to hear, eyes to see and a heart to feel their need. I was reminded today that the same Father who called us to open our hearts and home to this precious girl is the SAME FATHER who will meet her every need.

Would you be brave enough to seek the Father about if YOU are to answer the cry of a child out there? It might be partnering with an orphan care ministry. It might be emptying the savings acct. It might be saying NO to the American Dream and YES to His plan for your family. It might be getting involved in your local school to help with children who don't have someone in their lives to stand in the gap for them. It might be opening your home up to a single mom who is struggling to make it.

As we prepare for Thanksgiving may we seek the One who is above all things.

Lord, I give thanks for who you are. Your ways are so beyond my ways. Thank you for not only giving our child life and a family, but also for caring about the day in and day out needs. Help me to have a heart to respond to the needs around us. Give me eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to respond.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Will You Go?

Last Sunday our family visited a new church. I met the wife of the pastor a couple years ago at a mom's group in a nearby city. We wanted to go and get a glimpse of what God is doing in their lives and in the lives of those they are serving. Fields Church. One distinctive of theirs is: simple. Simple has the ability to be utterly powerful. No fanfare, no escort of your children to another facility, no glamor. It was intensely refreshing. As I looked around, we were welcomed by smiles which represented many different ethnicities. My heart rejoiced during worship knowing this was just a small picture of what heaven would be like ... gathered with people from every tribe, tongue and nation. It's not often we get to experience that with our multi-ethnic family in very rural Illinois. Thanks, Fields Church! We were blessed!

All week this song has been in my head. It was new to me. As we sang, I couldn't help but think back a little over seven years ago when our three young sons grabbed on to God's call to care for those in need. Take a listen: I Will Go {by Starfield}.

Oh that God's people would wake up and listen, hear and go. As Americans so often we are SICK with SELF. We are so consumed with SELF that we often have nothing left for OTHERS.

The lost ... the poor .... the hungry. We can find that right in our communities. Are we looking? Are we brave enough to even open our eyes and LOOK?

"To the desperate eyes and reaching hands
To the suffering and the lean
To the ones the world has cast aside
Where you want me I will be"

Can you imagine the changes we would see if we lived out that last line? "Where you want me I will be."

"Let me not be blind with privilege
Give me eyes to see the pain
Let the blessing You've poured out on me
Not be spent on me in vain
Let this life be used for change"

Every word in this song goes against the grain of our culture today. I have to wonder what God could do in and through a generation that would have a heart like His.

It may be that lonely widow down the road that needs so badly to know everyone has not forgotten them. It may be that child waiting half a world away .... needing a family. {GO VISIT the Alexander Family - be prepared to witness something amazing}

So often in the church we focus on giving our tithe, money .... I believe God wants so much more of us than that. Every breath we take is because of His mercy and provision for life. What we need to ask ourselves is WHAT are we gonna DO with our lives?

I get so weary of hearing about "my financial security" in this generation. Yes, God calls us to good stewardship. But it is often an idol today. More on that another time.

Just a year ago I buried my earthly father. Guess what y'all ... we take NOTHING with us.

Would you join me in asking the Lord what He would have for each of us to do? It might be that He'd have you go just down the road ...... wherever it is .... will you go?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Counting the Cost and Saying YES Anyway

Adoption is often costly. And while yes, that includes finances, it can go way beyond finances. When God stirred in our hearts about adoption there were many obstacles standing in our way. Finances? Um yeah ..... like a mile high boulder right in the way. Beyond finances though were other obstacles. Ones that cut deeper to the core. Ones that were going to require us to take risks. Ones that would cause us to lay down EVERYTHING that we knew, and step forward in obedience anyway.

You see, my dad grew up surrounded with a lens of prejudice. While it wasn't something that we discussed often, the reality of it became very much at the forefront of my mind. It was hard enough telling our family that we were going to step forward and answer God's call on our lives to adopt. We didn't know if we'd receive any support at all. It was important that we be patient and realize that just because God was speaking to OUR hearts about the Fatherless, it didn't mean our family would be hearing those same messages.

My dad hardly spoke of our adoption plans throughout the process. We told our family in a letter, as we were far away and wanted them all to hear the news at the same time. I didn't know if I'd ever hear from him much again. We were already doing "crazy things" like living way off far from family as church-planting missionaries. Let's just say there wasn't a big fanfare when we shared our news. I remember one family member telling us after learning we'd be adopting an AA babe ... "well at least you don't live close-by so it's not like you'll be rubbing the grandparents noses in it". SERIOUSLY? That was the only "positive" they could think of? That we didn't live nearby?

Fast forward several months later. The email came. "African American girl. Born needing heart surgery. No family available for her." Let me tell you .... I knew the risks of saying "yes" to that baby girl. I knew that me saying 'yes' to her, might very well mean my dad saying 'no' to me. I had to come to a place that I cared more about saying 'yes' to my Heavenly Father than I did my earthly father. We'd long before counted the cost. And said YES anyway.

We didn't hear much from my dad. A few months later it was time for a trip home. My heart was torn in two when it came time to pay him a visit. I wasn't sure how he'd handle this whole thing. I remember like it was yesterday, walking out to where he was working in his shop. There I went walking {in a bit of fear and trembling} with my three pale skinned sons, my faithful husband and a light-chocolate skinned baby girl. I'll never forget his words. In his infamous southern drawl he slowly shook his head back and forth looking down into her car seat and said: "my ... my... my .... my.... my!". It was in that moment I knew things were gonna be ok. I didn't expect it to all be natural and easy in an instant. No, it would take time. But in that moment I could tell that he was opening his heart up and allowing something beautiful to begin to grow.

Unfortunately because of our distance, we didn't get to see him much. A couple times of year is about all we had. As our little girl grew and started showing us she has spunk the size of Texas, so did dad's heart. About the same time as we were going through all of this my brother and his wife became very involved in the CASA program (Court Appointed Special Advocates). They would share about the needs of the kids they were serving in US Foster Care and dad would listen. He'd ask questions. He began to realize that so many people out there had not be blessed to have the upbringing we'd had. A mother and a father to nurture us and teach us how to work hard. It was like a whole new world was opening up to him.

A couple years passed and the Lord asked us again to count the cost and say YES anyway. This time it would mean traveling across the world to a foreign land and bringing home a 14 month old little girl. By now our family was used to the idea that we were plain 'ole radical and they might as well make the best of it. This time the sting came in a different way. People outside of our family. Some that had supported our ministry. As missionaries we were supported by both churches and individuals. I'll never forget receiving word that people were questioning our mental IQ. Ok, so they probably didn't word it like that, but the message was clear. Thankfully God had placed a few people in our lives that did what they could to be a voice to help others understand God's heart in this. That was truly a comfort. It still hurt when yet another private supporter stopped our support because they couldn't support what we were doing with their money. Another wrote a letter of why they were strongly convicted that supporting ministries and children oversees is wrong. We should only focus on the needs here in America.

I share all of this, because I know some of you are having to count the cost. You wonder if there is ANY way over the financial boulders. Your heart aches as you think of crossing ethnic lines when there is racism in your own family line. The cries of the Fatherless keep you up at night, but you feel weak and just aren't sure if you're up for the journey ahead. None of us can possibly know the outcome. What we must focus on is listening to our Heavenly Father and obeying Him no matter what He asks us to do .... even if earthly voices that we love are loud and even at times unkind.

When our girls were turning 4 and 2 God brought us back to our home town area. The visits with family grew more frequent and have been greatly treasured. My heart bursts with joy remembering times of my dad stopping by just to see us and he'd sit up at the counter with my baby girls and color with them. Laughing at their antics ... trying to woo them in. He was a big guy, I tell ya! All 6 ft 4 in of him would just melt and it was beautiful.

A year ago today, my dad left this earthly life. He passed on suddenly far from home after suffering a heart attack. I miss him. The eighteen months we had here together were the best I ever knew. I remember back when he traveled all the way out to ND to move a bunch of our things ... and he saw our sweet Maleah toddling around. After a few quiet moments deep in thought he looked up at me and said ... "Can you imagine how many things have changed in her life and how hard it must be?". There was MY dad .... having eyes and a heart for the Fatherless. I treasure that moment.

There's no guarantee what the outcome might be for you. It might be that some won't ever accept your obedience. What I CAN tell you is that your Heavenly Father's voice is more important than all the rest. After all, His son came to earth and counted the cost for YOU and for ME and said YES anyway.

Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

Monday, October 10, 2011

Giving Back

Just a few miles down the road, in a tiny town, by the bank of the Spoon River is a place where something amazing happens. Some know it as a place where the Spoon River Rascals perform in an old Opera House. They’ve been at this about eight years now. Both the “little” Rascals and the “big” Rascals bring forth some fabulous shows. The woman behind all of this has quite a reputation. Let’s just say that during the process children learn some good old fashioned lessons that go far beyond music and acting. Respect, working together, keeping one’s mouth shut & listening are just a few. Before I ever knew “Paula, the leader of the Rascals” though, I knew her in a much different way. She was simply my neighbor during part of my growing up years.

Back then she was going to college for her music degree and was the momma of two of the most amazingly precious little baby boys. It happened to be summer time. They were in need of someone to care for those sweet babies and I had little else occupying my summer. I’ll never forget that special summer. Those babies and their cloth diapers and I had quite a few bonding moments. Never mind that I was only 10 yrs old {crazy, I know!, my mom was just down the road a tiny bit if I needed anything}, I’d cart those boys one on each hip. Into the double stroller they’d go and round and around the circle drive I’d trot.

That family’s home and hearts were a haven to me. More than once I found solace in people that cared enough about what was going on in my life to simply sit awhile and listen. I became part of the family. It makes me chuckle to remember sitting squished in the back seat of their tiny auto between two car seats. No doubt those early child-caring experiences molded me into the momma I am today. I can still remember the proud smiles of both sets of grand parents as we’d go to their homes for visits.

Later, Paula would be my private music teacher. She was a teacher through and through. And while she could be a little rough around the edges, she’s always been known to bring out talent in youngins’ that no one else knew was there.

You can imagine what a delight it was when we moved back to the area to think that some of my children would get to study under the same woman who taught me much about piano and voice. She’d been inspired by other teachers she had and has always been one to give back.

More than teaching just vocal and acting skills, she models and provides opportunities to give back. As the children grow older they become part of the back stage and lighting/sound crew. Why do teenagers give night after night to a show that other children are gonna be stars of? Because when one has received, they also give back.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how we should live as Christians. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Not just to receive, but to go out and give back. We are to be LIGHT no matter where God places us. Be it a teacher in a Sunday School classroom, a doctor, a store clerk. We shouldn’t just be focused on serving inside the walls of the church. We are to go out to all parts of the world. We are to invest in things eternal …. people’s lives.

What a blessing it was to hear her pray with the children before each performance …. thanking God for all the talents He has given and for the opportunity to use them for His glory to touch other’s lives. THAT is something I want my children to know about and live.

Gotta admit I felt a little sentimental when I caught a glimpse of this special woman getting my girl ready for the big show. I wasn’t sure how they would get along, to be honest. My spunky Texan girl has a heck of a time keeping her mouth shut when it’s time for quiet. Her impulsivity makes this momma pretty nervous at times. And while she really wanted to be part of the Lullaby League and wear a tutu …. she also got the experience of learning the amazing gift of doing the MOST with the part you have. OH were there times I thought she was doin’ a little MUCH, but I was assured to let her be.

My youngest son was back stage this show. He’s been out front in others. No matter where you are, there is much to be learned. And it goes way beyond vocal and acting skills. Performance isn’t just done for performance sake and to be the star of the show. It’s about giving back.

Last year about this time crisis struck our family. My dad died of a sudden heart attack. The question came of who would do music. It took about half a second for me to know who to call. My heart sunk a little when she said she had travel plans … then she said she’d change them. What a comfort her familiar sound on the piano was to my soul that day. She didn’t have to change her plans, but she chose to. I guess it’s about giving back.

It seems so long ago when I was that 10 yr old girl with a twin baby on each hip. Those babies are grown now with families of their own. They too are giving back.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Sometimes Surgery Gives Life

It was 7 years ago. I got up early one morning and checked myself into a hospital not knowing how I would will myself to sign the papers. I wanted so badly for someone else to sign them for me ... it just seemed impossible. While waiting in the tiny room behind a curtain, it felt like seconds passed as hours. For some reason I had the curse good fortune of the nastiest anesthesiologist that day. He was crude, made horrible jokes and obviously had no idea what a tragic day I was experiencing. There was nothing in me to address the situation. I just sat there numb, hoping I would somehow wake from a bad dream.

You see a few months prior I had gone in for a routine exam at my GYN office. I was overdue for my exam by a few years, due to lack of insurance. Can you say: Needed Healthcare Reform? We had three boys that were growing up into wonderful little young men who were such a joy to our lives. There was a deep desire to have another child. At this time in our lives God was also stirring in our hearts about the needs of the Fatherless. We weren't sure all that God had for our future, but we were just doing all we could to follow Him and trust Him. My exam was pretty routine. The doctor gave me some medication to regulate my hormones. Because of some side effects from the meds, I called in a few days later to get a different prescription. I wasn't prepared at all for what I was about to hear.

"Mrs Roberts . . . I'm looking at your test results . . . ma'am it doesn't look good . . . you could be dealing with full-blown cancer."

Full-blown CANCER? That was NOT part of our plans. At all. It wasn't even on the radar. I was healthy (or so we thought) and just entering my 30's. Surely this couldn't be.

After several unsuccessful procedures we really had no choice. It was time for major surgery. Surgery that would leave me infertile. I hated the "I" word. I'd been there before, more than once. I knew it's pain. I knew it's emptiness. Now I would know it's permanence.

I wish I could say I fully surrendered right away to the Lord and trusted Him. I did not. Instead, I wrestled with Him. He felt a million miles away from me. I knew if I ever wanted to experience that intimate fellowship with Him again, I had to surrender. Everything. I wasn't ready. I was ready to embrace more of Psalm 127:3!

"Children are a heritage from the LORD,
offspring a reward from him."
Psalm 127:3

Instead I would have to come to experience barrenness. I would need to surrender OUR dreams, OUR plans, OUR expectations. Those of you who have experienced secondary infertility know that kind of turmoil.

After a couple of weeks I set out on a walk, asking the Lord to help me. I couldn't even SURRENDER on my own. I needed His mercy to HELP me. He was so faithful. As I walked up that incline, just before the railroad tracks, I laid it all down. My marriage ... my sweet sons ... my dreams ... my ministry ... everything. By this point in time we were well into the adoption process. Even that had to be laid down, as we had to pull our name until we could show verification I was indeed healthy. God gave me Isaiah 41:10 during that time in my life.

"So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."

Later I would read sweet notes from my children. They were aware of the seriousness of this health crisis. One of my sons wrote: "I hope that you do not die, Mommy. I love you!" Precious thing ...

Surgery went well. God blessed me with an incredible doctor who always treated me with dignity and grace. Unfortunately I didn't heal well from surgery and would go on to endure six months of excruciating treatments of my incision site. I'll spare you the gory details. Let's just say it didn't help my emotional condition that year. At all. Even though one dream had to die, we were full of gratefulness that my surgery gave me life. I don't take these years for granted. I'll always be thankful that the Lord gave us such a strong desire for another child which would spur us on to get that check-up done. With or without insurance.

After a couple of months we were able to put our adoption paperwork back in active status. Little did we know that it wouldn't be too much longer and we'd receive that amazing email about our daughter. She too would be undergoing life-giving surgery of a different kind. You can read a bit about her story here. Later God would grow our family yet again! Her story is all documented here. We are so incredibly BLESSED.

Ladies ... get your yearly check ups. Husbands, insist that your precious wives get their yearly check ups.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

A Different Harvest

LinkPhoto by Holly Spangler, used with permission from Prairie Farmer.

They say grief comes in waves. Ya know what? It is true. You never know when one will come creeping up on you, or taking you under for awhile.

Tonight as I was coming back from taking my kiddos to AWANA, the sights and sounds of harvest were all around me. I LOVE harvest. We're not a farming family, but growing up in rural IL and then spending almost eight years in rural ND, we've spent the greater part of our lives in farming communities. I love driving our country roads and seeing the corn change from bright green to golden tan this time of year. You can just sense all the anticipation in the air as equipment is brought out from storage buildings and prepared for the rigorous season ahead.

As I saw our friend's semi pulling out onto the rural road it just hit me that this year .... this year is so different.

My dad spent most of his life going down the roads of this great country in his own semi. Because of that job, he wasn't home much. At all. He'd always call us to check in though. I remember answering the phone as a child, you know the kind that was actually attached to the wall! One of my first questions would be ... "Where are you?". Even into my 30's the question was the same .... "Where are you?". I learned a good bit of my US geography knowledge from mapping my dad's trips. Often dad would speak of a friend he'd just met on the road for dinner. Didn't seem to matter where he was, there was always a friend passing through. No doubt there were times in his family's life that they wished they were the ones having dinner with him. Our dinners together were very few. But I knew that my dad being on the road meant there would be food in my house and a warm place to sleep. He taught me about work ethic and was always quick to speak praise to me of my mom for being there for us in the day-to-day.

There's one thing my dad loved more than trucking and that was farming. If his life-circumstances had been different he might have spent his life in the fields instead of on the interstates. For the last many years, dad would park his truck come harvest time. He'd head down further south in IL to his sister's place. To him, getting up in the combine was like vacation. He loved it. I could hear it is his voice when he'd call. His sister's family was dear to him.

Well this harvest that's all part of the past. Dad passed on suddenly last October from a heart attack. I miss his phone calls from the road. Sometimes when I hear the hum of a semi it takes me back to my childhood days of hearing his truck in the drive. I miss his hankie, that he was always quick to share with his children, and then his grand children. Not long before Dad passed on he took me aside and poured out his blessing on how I had invested my life .... in raising my children. I had never before heard such affirmation before from him on what I'd chosen to spend my years doing. I hold tight to that blessing this harvest.

The above photo was taken from my friend, Holly Spangler. Be sure to check out her blog and hear some wonderful stories of raising a family on today's farm.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our Portion

Psalm 73:25-26
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

Sometimes we find ourselves in places we'd rather not be. It might be our marriage. Perhaps the man we 'thought' we married isn't what we conceived after all. It could be our children. Ask any parent that has had to watch a child struggle and they'll tell you there is nothing like that kind of difficulty. Maybe it is our finances. You might have done all the right things and still, you can't control ALL things. Possibly, it is grief. When we least expect it we find ourselves smashed up against by yet another wave.

No matter WHAT it is .... we can rest assured that God alone is our portion. HE himself is enough. He promises to be our STRENGTH. That doesn't mean all of our heartache or trials will go away.

There's so much talk about "portion control" in our lives today. "Don't eat too much!" "Only take a small portion!" Obviously if we're concerned about our waistlines we'd want to choose the portion on the right, instead of the one on the left in the above photo.

Sometimes we question the portion that God gives us. OUCH. Yes, it's true. We wonder why we have a little house, while our friend has the bigger one. We are perplexed when someone we know is surrounded by a large, support network while we are off on our own in an isolated area. We fall into jealousy over that family who takes big trips while we struggle to put a meal on the table. What we fail to realize is that God KNOWS what He is doing! He sees the BIG picture. He has our BEST in mind. It's not just "our" best in mind either, but those around us watching and witnessing. Our Father can be trusted!

We need to remember that HE is our portion. We could never ask for more.

Father, thank you that YOU are our portion. You know us so intimately and have full comprehension of every detail we are going through. When our hearts grow weary, You are there. Help us to remember that in the day-to-day. Amen.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Belly Buttons & Birthmoms

You just never know when the questions will come. "Mommy, where did my belly button come from?" Today was hair day and after we got the old style all undone it was time for a bath and hair washing. It would be really easy to just give answers that didn't embrace the opportunity that is peeking it's way through.

As I was talking with a friend the other day, she mentioned how she knew of a woman in her life that doesn't even know her story. It happens all too often. Children have a right to KNOW their story. It IS in fact THEIR story. Even when it's infiltrated with pain and loss, they deserve to know it.

I want my children to trust me. I want them to know that what I say is true. If I desire to have healthy relationships with them in their adolescent years, then I had better be laying that foundation of truth and honesty NOW, while they are young.

The conversation continued something like this ....

"Sweet girl ... that is where you were attached to your birth mom when you were growing inside her tummy.", I said. "OH!!!", she said. "You mean the mommy plugs it into her tummy?" she said. "Well, not exactly, but there is an umbilical cord that attaches the baby to it's mommy and that is how the baby is nourished while they are in the tummy.", I said. "OOOOHHHH!!!", she said, completely impressed with this new knowledge!

Back when we were in the adoption process, it was engrained in us how important it is to talk with your kids as they begin to put the pieces of their story together. To be honest, that made my heart ache at times, just not knowing what all to expect. How would they handle that kind of information. What I've come to realize is that it will just come up as we live life together! And really, that's the best way. There is no reason to keep these big secrets from our kids and then sit them down when they are 18 and bury them in a heavy load they were never intended to have to carry all at once. No, instead, they should receive bits and pieces as they are ready.

What happens though when the womb wasn't a safe place for them with their birth parents? What then? I know a lot of you are walking that journey! You are living out the ramifications from birth parents choices before you were even in the picture. What THEN? I'll tackle that in an upcoming post.

We went on to lotion her up, get dressed and tackle the new hair style. Just as I want my daughters to know they can come to me when they are hungry or thirsty or scared .... I also want them to know they can come to me with their questions. I want them to know their story. Because, it is just that ... THEIR story.

If you're an adoptive momma, I'd love to hear how you are sharing your child's story with them. What opportunities have you had to tell them bits of their story as you go about your day? What fun questions have your kids come up with? What areas do you find it most difficult to talk about? Leave your answers in the comments. I look forward to hearing from you! :)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Think About Such Things

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent
or praiseworthy—think about such things. Phil4:8&9

I don't know about you, but my mind can really drift at times. Especially during times of stress or change, I can fall into areas of discouragement. I love how God provides direction for us in His Word. Phil 4:8&9 is such a great check-list of where our thoughts should be. This passage always draws me back to thinking more about the LORD and less about the circumstances that surround me. That's a great place to rest my mind.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Cool Water

Nehemiah 9:19-21
"Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the wilderness
By day the pillar of cloud did not fail to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. 21 For forty years you sustained them in the wilderness; they lacked nothing, their clothes did not wear out
nor did their feet become swollen."

Ever been in the wilderness? Ever wondered if the Lord truly even remembered you? At times like those I am encouraged by digging into the book of Nehemiah. Can you even imagine being in the wilderness for 40 YEARS? When we are parched and dry and needy .... HE offers to be our living water. He longs to refresh us and renew us. He promises to SUSTAIN us. Just as my girls were SO excited to get out in the cool water on a hot summer day, SO SHOULD I be eager to seek my Father for the cool water that HE offers.

Are you in need of refreshing? Do you need to be reminded that you have a Heavenly Father that cares SO DEEPLY for you? You might want to open up the book of Nehemiah today. I promise you will be encouraged & strengthened.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The Blessed Nap Hour

Moms, am I speaking your language? If not, I should be. ;)

One of the key things that has kept me sane over the last eighteen years of mothering is "The Blessed Nap Hour"! In our home, it typically last longer than an hour. ;) But an hour is a great place to start!

I hear some of you now .... "well, my child quit taking naps when they turned ONE!". Yep, most of ours would have too, if we'd let them. So bear with me. Also, here is a great 'lil secret, just because your kids don't actually SLEEP doesn't mean they don't need REST.

I'm really surprised by the number of families I see with whiny-in-the-afternoon/evening-children. It really doesn't have to be this way! It really SHOULDN'T be this way. Often when a child is cranky, whiny and irritable late in the day, it's simply because they are tired. Kids (and MOMMAS) get over-stimulated and need a bit of "down time". Even children who don't sleep much need REST. Children who are often labeled as "busy" {dare I say a tinge hyper} NEED down time!!! They need an opportunity to calm down and regroup.

Isn't it amazing how we wonder why our kids don't know how to sit and be quiet at places like doctor's waiting rooms and church, but we never incorporate QUIET into their lives during the week? Ding-ding-ding!!! :)

Interesting to me is that we live in a society that is SO overly obsessed with their babies sleeping through the night, but see NOTHING unusual about toddlers and young children who are constantly over-tired and whiny from 2 o'clock on! So, moms of littles ... if your children are cranky and irritable from 4-7 each evening, don't lose heart! There is a GREAT way to fix this!!!! Those hours can be some of the BEST you've ever experienced!

So what does this look like? Here's a few practical tips. This post isn't targeted for newborns and babies, so we're gonna start at the toddler phase.

  • Be sure your child gets lots of opportunity to be busy and work off energy in the mornings. Unless it is 150 degrees above or below zero, TRY to get in at least a half hour of outside time! Nothing like running/playing hard and fresh air to wear a kid out!
  • Work their BRAINS and their BODIES in the mornings. If they've spent the majority of the morning vegging in front of the TV they aren't going to be ready for a good rest in the afternoon. Esp on rainy days, be sure to work in some puzzle time and/or game time with your kids! Sleepy brains rest better.
  • Give your child lots of "mommy time" in the mornings. You want their tanks filled up in this area so they won't be clingy/needy when it's time to go rest. If you've spent good quality time with your kids in the morning you'll feel more confident to tuck them in for their alone time in the afternoon.
  • Provide a healthy lunch with some good protein! Filling your kids up with only sugar and caffeine for lunch will hit hard against you come rest time. :) Half an apple, some carrot sticks and a PB sandwich and/or yogurt will fill up those tummies and will hold them over.
  • Don't use "rest time" as a PUNISHMENT!!! It should be a NATURAL part of the day!, just like meal time, play time and potty time! I cringe when I hear moms threaten their tired/fussy kids ... "if you don't stop your whining you'll have to GO TO BED". HELLO?!!!! ... your precious kiddo NEEDS rest! It shouldn't be a punishment. :)
  • Expect your child to stay in their bed QUIETLY (or whatever location you have set up) until rest time is over. During years of tiny apartment living with 3 littles we had to get creative on location, but we always made it work. It was a key to our family thriving.
NEWSFLASH!: Your kids might not be super excited about "rest time". It's OK! You only need to require them to do it with a good attitude. Having something to look forward to AFTER "rest time" is a great way to set up their day as well. Often my girls will ask me ... "Mommy, can we do that after nap time?". They've just grown accustom to knowing that nap time is GONNA happen and when they get up we're all about having a GREAT TIME again together until bed time!

It's very normal for a child to begin not sleeping every day between 12 months and 3 years old. Four out of five of our kids have done this. They might go a whole WEEK or so without "sleeping". This is often when parents think they have "outgrown" naps. STICK WITH IT. Change your language from "nap time" to "rest time" if you need to for older kids. Guess what? Parents that have done this, almost ALWAYS the kids start sleeping again! At least several times out of the week. It's a fact. :)

Even most Kindergarten classes and children's camps have times of REST! They are smart! They know that kids NEED down time.

So other than the fact that REST is SO important for young kids, there is more! Moms, this is the key to having more peace in your home! Having an hour or more break each afternoon helps YOU in more ways than you can imagine. Knowing there is that block of time where there won't be a thousand questions asked of you also gives YOUR mind, heart and soul time to REST. This is NOT selfish mommas!!! It is NEEDED and GOOD for you! It is ALSO good for Daddy!! Daddy deserves to come home to a place that is not complete chaos filled with whining children and a basket-case momma! :) Evenings can become some of the BEST of family times when the children are rested and happy until bed time. Blessed is the man of a woman who has had a little bit of rest mid-day, let me tell ya! :)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Doctor Visits with the Element of Adoption

Some days we go through our day like any other ordinary family. Truly there are days that I hardly even think about my daughters being adopted. Then there are other days ... like trips to the doctor. Those days are always different. Sometimes it's a nurse who says really IGNORANT things about and to your child. (thankfully we have moved and no longer deal with that nurse) Sometimes it's a diagnosis or condition that creates a constant need for educating those around you and quite frankly there are times you don't want to be "educator" .... you just want to be momma. Sometimes it's the section of the paperwork that says "birth history" and you are reminded once again of all the things you frankly don't know or have an answer for.

Birth history can be a complicated one. Perhaps you know a few things that might be helpful for medical staff, yet you don't want them to broadcast those details without grace. You fellow adoptive mommas know what I speak of. While I APPRECIATE that we live in a country where we can take our children to see a doctor whenever we need to .... I do NOT appreciate some of the carelessness and treatment of some professionals. Then there are other times that you just simply do NOT know the answers to the questions on the form. In some international adoptions (even domestic) you might not even know who their birth parents were, or where exactly they were born .... let alone details of birth parent health history. And that can sting. Both for you and your child.

So what's a parent to do? Well, after a few years of adoptive parenting under my belt, my best advice is this ..... LOVE YOUR CHILD. No doubt, you're already doing that. Continue. Here are a few practical ways this can get played out.

  1. Find an adoption-friendly doctor. They ARE out there! I would add to that "qualifier" is an adoption-friendly NURSE. We had a great Pediatrician back in North Dakota. Nurse? Failed. I should have spoken up. Walked out. Whatever it took. Our daughter was an infant, so thankfully she was clueless.
  2. Advocate for your child. It doesn't matter where your child was born, the color of their skin, what insurance coverage they have, or their diagnosis. Every human being deserves the right to be treated with dignity and respect and receive excellent care. I know this should go without saying, but I'm sayin' it.
  3. Only give the details that are necessary, unless AFTER establishing a relationship and trust is built and you desire to share more. They don't need every detail of your child's life story to treat them medically. There's a difference between a "thorough" doctor and "nosy healthcare staff".
  4. Answer anything you can ahead of time, especially if your child might feel uncomfortable with 20 questions in front of them.
We are blessed now to have wonderful medical staff for our daughters. One thing we've enjoyed is having diversity in our doctors. We see a family doctor who happens to be African American. He's gentle and thorough and cares about parental insight. He's been helpful and knowledgeable about things specific to our daughter's ethnicity (ex. skin scarring as we have one with sensory issues). I love that our oldest daughter's heart doctor is neither Caucasian or AA. I want her to grow up building relationships with people from all over the globe. He has a sweet heart for adoption, as well as being excellent in his field. We are thankful.

Tomorrow we see the eye doctor for the first time. While we've seen this doctor already for our son, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at all anxious. Mostly because I think there will be some questions being addressed related to birth-parent history and this is my daughter who cares very much about every detail being spoken about around her. :) Trust me, we TALK about birth parents!! .... but it is different doing that snuggled up together and sitting in a stark office with a near stranger firing off the questions.

Adoptive families: What has been YOUR experience with your children's doctors? Have you found it to be challenging? Perhaps you are an adult who was once adopted and have faced some of the same issues now that you're out on your own. Maybe you even have some tips of your own to share. Please do so! :)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

When Darkness Comes in Marriage

When we walk the aisle and say "I Do" our heart and mind is full of nothing but dreamy and glorious things. We can't imagine that aisle being a pathway to pain, sorrow, betrayal or devastation. Oh sure, we say "In plenty and in want .... richer for poorer ..... sickness and health" ... but let's be really honest with each other here ... we can't hardly imagine that we'd face a world crashing down around us.

For some though, that is what came later. Perhaps the first month, maybe 3, 5 or 10 years into it. What THEN? What is a person to do when they feel there is no one to turn to .... when all hope fades into the far off distance? What happens when your very best friend can no longer be trusted? That friend you stood before the Lord with and vowed every part of your being to. Maybe you know all too well what I speak of. Or maybe you have a loved one that does.

Betrayal whether through internet porn, a gambling addiction, alcoholism, or a fleshly affair .... they all bring destruction in a marriage. It can leave the other spouse feeling abandoned, defrauded, helpless, paralyzed, destroyed .... fill in the blank. Darkness often overtakes you and it seems the moment might come you won't know how to take another breath. Or maybe wish you wouldn't.

I've had the absolute privilege of walking with a lot of families, including many adoptive families. Nothing grieves my heart quite as deep as when a friend faces what I've described. I have come to know that the ONLY thing I have to offer her is the Hope of Christ. HE is the only one that can bring light to such darkness.

The other day I was checking in with a sweet friend. She's a fellow adoptive momma and I just love her. I actually got to meet two of her precious kiddos before I ever met her in real life. What a fun blessing! I was excited to hear back from her, yet was a bit anxious unsure of how things were working out. You see she had been walking through a long and messy trail of darkness in marriage. Yes, this even happens to "cream of the crop" families. She had every reason to give up. Countless issues to just walk away from. I had prayed and prayed for this sweet friend, yet just wasn't sure what the outcome would be. Reading her update just brought me to TEARS. She shared in heartfelt honesty how hard the journey was, yet that she was looking to the Lord and saw hope again. The road ahead is gonna be a difficult one, but I know that God is going to bring BEAUTY from these ashes. He promises to bind up the brokenhearted. To set captives free. To bring LIFE.

Isaiah 40:30-31 comes to mind as I think about my friend and her precious family.

"Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
the those that WAIT ON THE LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar with wings like eagles; they will run and not faint."

I am so thankful that my friend chose to look to her Heavenly Father rather than close the door on Hope. I have full confidence that the Lord is going to use her family MIGHTILY to bring hope to other hurting marriages.

Are you needing to look towards Hope? Are you in need of waiting on the Lord to renew your strength? Maybe you have a friend that needs you to pray her through the depths of darkness and despair. We are often so busy with our lives that we don't stop to really care. When darkness comes in marriage we're in need of a light-bearer. Will you be a light-bearer?

Friday, June 24, 2011

What are Little Boys {Being} Made Of?

As a momma of three sons, I care a lot about little boys. Not just "little" boys though .... I care even more about who they become as they near adulthood. What I've concluded over the years is that it matters what happens in the early years.

Recently we had a little boy over for the day. And it really got me thinking .... "What are little boys {being} made of today?". It started out simple, sort of. I peered outside to be sure all was well and saw the little boy playing with my little girl. Seeing their arms swinging through the air made me do a "double-take". They obviously weren't "fighting", but rather "playing". So I inquired .... "What are you doing?". "Playing Star Wars", was the answer. HUH?, I thought. So the mean 'old fashioned/uncool' mom in me said ..... "No, not Star Wars". The little guy says ... "How about Indiana Jones???". HUH? .... how does one play Indiana Jones, anyway.? My kids haven't even seen the movie. "Nope", was my answer. "How about Batman!!!???". My heart kinda broke inside. It was obvious that is all the little boy even thought of to play. Finally I said ... "How about like play catch or tag?!!!". :)

My mind drifted back to my years of raising little boys. How is it that we've drifted so far from "real life" play? Why is it that we have a growing culture of young men that often don't know how to relate to society and engage in meaningful relationships and be prepared to hold down jobs and care for their families? Is this coincidence? I'm not 100% sure. REAL LIFE calls for men who are prepared to WORK HARD to provide for their families ... not just be immersed in video games, movies and an imaginary world.

What happened to little boys digging in the dirt and making pretend forts and playing for hours with a pile of matchbox cars or a fun train set?

I'm not saying that everything about the above examples are bad, but I am saying that what I see all too often is really alarming. Our world is in need of little boys to grow up to know how to work hard and help to care for those around them. We need strong leaders who are grounded in truth with a heart of compassion for the hurting. We need men who will stand for justice and who take responsibility for their actions. We need men who are not afraid to sweat while still having a servant heart to tend to a crying baby when needed.

Moms of little boys ... I would love to hear from you. What are some ways you are cultivating these things in your little men? What are YOUR little boys {being} made of?

{photo compliments of a couple little boys that live down the road}

One day it'll all be over and you'll be sending them out in the big world. Will they be ready to embrace real life and not just a fantasy?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Segregation in Adoption

Now and then it comes to the surface with a bit of sting ... segregation in adoption. After our move to central Illinois we found out about a wonderful gathering of families that join together for an evening of fun, food and fellowship. Their common bond? All of the families have adopted {or are in process of adopting} from Ethiopia. I was really excited! My first thought was for my precious 4 yr old (at the time) and how thrilled she'd be to join together with children that looked like her. But you see .... if she was the only one in our family with brown skin, she wouldn't qualify to attend. That hit me. Hard. And I honestly didn't know what to make of what I was even feeling. Her little sister (2 at the time) could really care less what color children's skin is ... she just wanted to be sure Momma and Daddy were staying close by. However, it is her being in our family that "qualify" us to be part of this group. And so we went. It was wonderful!! We met some amazing families who had traveled a similar journey. There's a common bond in adoption. In a way it's like gathering with women who have just shared a birth experience. They get the pain, the wait, the longing, the unknown. Even moreso it is with adoptive families. They GET IT. And THAT is a HUGE blessing.

But there is another side to the equation. A side that has been stirring in my heart for some time that concerns me as I observe the adoption community. It's a side I wrote about in "A Tale of Two Adoptions". It actually took TWO posts .. the second one is HERE. At times there seems to be some underlying segregation.
Take my daughters for example. They both have brown skin. Both adopted. Both have faced loss and brokenness. Both rode airplanes home to FAMILY. Both have had to learn to be part of a family that looks different than their heritage. Both have learned to sit through a white momma learning to do their ethnic hair. YET, as we talked about our fun plans to get to attend the adoptive family gathering this weekend, the oldest (now 6) said to me .... "Momma, are all the children from Ethiopia?". "Yes ...", I replied (unsure of where this was going). Next she asked ... "Are any of the Texas people gonna be there?". You see, just as we have instilled in our youngest (now 4) to know about her birth place and be proud of where she's come from ..... we have also done the same with our spunky Texan babe ... born on US soil. When we attend such events, other families just "assume" often that both of our girls are from Ethiopia. Yet in reality, here in this area if we didn't have our youngest daughter, our other daughter would not even have a diverse adoption gathering to attend. Yet she has the SAME needs.

Am I saying having an adoption gathering based on country is wrong? No, I'm not. It is a huge blessing to gather with other families who have traveled to a country that we also traveled to. They have seen some of the same sights ... smelled some of the same smells ... trecked a similiar, but often unique path to their children. We are THANKFUL to be able to gather with them.

Even still, the "momma of a little brown Texan girl" in me aches at times. Where is HER fanfare? The last time I checked there really wasn't a big crowd standing up saying what a fabulous heritage African Americans have endured here in the US. The history books paint a different reality. One that also needs to be graciously taught to my daughter. She's my one with a personality that craves diversity. I'm thankful she gets to attend this gathering .... even if it's because of her sister. She'll probably even let them all know {boldly} about her home state. "Everything's BIG in TX .... 'cept Me!" is one of her favorite little facts. ;)

I am equally thankful that this precious girl gets to be part of a special gathering from people of her homeland. As I see their faces I am reminded that these are children that no longer lay in orphans' beds, but instead are embraced by families. They no longer have to wait in hopes of food. They no longer lie in cribs, wet, without diapers. As you watch them run and play, you can't help but realize they are not just a statistic .... but they are each a special creation of God, born with a unique purpose.

Recently we had the privilege of spending a few days with a very special family. They are also an adoptive family. As a passerby, you might not even notice. They too know loss and grief and pain and brokenness. They too know about redemption and sacrifice. And to an even greater depth, have two of their precious kiddos had to learn what it means to be part of a family. I was reminded to be careful to not segregate in the adoption community. We have so much we can learn from each other. We need to walk alongside one another being ready to encourage and strengthen and share each other burdens when the weight is heavy. We need to be willing to stand in the suffering of our children and our friends' children and not leave them to walk alone. We need to remind each other of TRUTH, when the lies come in to steal away the JOY the Lord intended.

I'm meeting more and more adoptive families here in central IL. God is doing a beautiful work here and we cannot wait to see what He has for this little corner of the world. It is our deep burden that the church will rise up and answer the cries of the orphan. Not because it's the right thing to do, but because of what Jesus has already done for us. HE is the one to truly minister to the needs of the orphan ... whether that child is across the world or waiting alone in a hospital room here in the US or caught up in the court/foster care system. We are only vessels that He uses. We are NOTHING apart from Him. Food, clothing and even a family can't "fix" the needs of the orphan. Their needs go so much deeper than that. In reality, they are not much different than ourselves. We are often just so blinded by our true need .... our need for Him.

What has been your experience in the adoption community? Have you too felt the subtle threads of segregation? Do you sometimes feel isolated and alone? I would love to hear your story.

Someday ... oh and how I long for the day .... there is a coming a time that all of God's children will stand TOGETHER with no separations and praise Him. Children with broken bodies from disease and abuse and neglect will have NEW BODIES. There will be NO more tears ... NO more pain. I know some of you are walking in the dark places and need that reminder. Do not lose heart. Today is just a small part of the picture.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Reality vs. What People Say

We're about seven years or so into the adoption journey. I continue to be amazed by the crazy things that people say. About three years ago I wrote about that here "Things People Say".

It still makes my head spin when people say:

  • "Can I just have one of yours?"
  • "You don't mind if I just keep her, do ya?"
  • "You really don't need two ... how 'bout I just take one?"
It's evident in the humorous and flippant tone that the person is in NO way counting the cost. I don't just mean the cost of adoption. Do they really have ANY idea what adoption has meant for our family? Do they really want to know what the process of separating needs and wants was? I am GLAD those choices were made! Yet I also am aware they were choices. There were sacrifices. My children have known them also. They chose joyfully. They didn't pout and complain when there was no second vehicle to go and do anything during their growing up years. Or lack of money to go and do much extra even if there was a vehicle. Ha. No, instead they were out working odd jobs to try and raise funds. I don't share any of that for a pat on the back. I share it because I think we're AFRAID often, as SPOILED AMERICANS, to CONSIDER the cost. SO WHAT if there is no money for extra-curriculars. SO WHAT if my kids didn't know much about eating out or fancy vacations. SO WHAT if there were months we had to get very creative about groceries so there was enough to feed the family and share with all who came through our house. WHY do we think of those things as "rights"? It grieves my spirit when we value what we think we "deserve" over what children with NO one NEED.

Another thing that's evident is the person behind the comments are not stopping to count the cost for my daughters. They would not have chosen to be stripped from their birthmom and heritage. Their being in our family came about because of horrendous LOSS. My six yr old is FULLY AWARE of that loss. Being in our family doesn't take that away. It will never take away the pain of having been an orphan. Learning to be part of a family takes HARD WORK, both on the family's part and on the adopted child's part.

My daughters are not "trophies". They are not "possessions". They are not "causes". They are HUMAN BEINGS. These precious little ones have hearts that know both JOY and PAIN. This is REALITY.

I want to be a good steward of the amazing blessing it is to be called momma by them. Sometimes that means speaking up. Not just for them, but for the others ... the hundreds ... the thousands ... the MILLIONS that WAIT. And, THIS is reality.

Adoption isn't just a cause. It isn't a trend {at least not here in the Roberts family}. Adoption is a need. A need for ALL of us.

SOME DAY, my friends, the "BUSYNESS" is gonna be OVER. It's all gonna come to an end. Life on this earth will be over. It won't really matter if your kids experienced t-ball or ballet or piano lessons. The trips and vacations and fancy outings are all gonna be dust. And while there's nothing inherently "wrong" with those things ... if they are standing in the way of you saying YES to the Lord than that is reason to shudder.

Maybe this isn't your day to say yes to adoption. Maybe it is. Maybe it IS your day to get alone with God and ask Him about HIS heart. It might not even be adoption ... it might be orphan care. It might be relooking at your family's schedule and finances and asking Him what YOUR responsibility might be to see to it that another child doesn't DIE today. TODAY.

Often God's design for our lives is far different that what we imagined. I never imagined, in the beginning, that these two amazing children would be part of our family. I love to see their smiles. Even moreso, because I know of the threads of pain that are woven into each of their lives. There may be seasons ahead that the smiles fade for awhile. It's during those seasons more than anything that I want them to cling to their {Other} Father.

I love so much that in God's amazing mercy and faithfulness He gave to them also this special earthly father .... to snuggle and nurture them. This earthy dad had every reason to say no. But because He cared more about spending his life following after God's heart, he chose to say yes. They are too.

My heart aches for the children that don't know that kind of love and nurture ..... YET.