Monthly Archives: March 2012

Giving

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Words fail me when I think about how people have given to us in the last couple of years.  Friends who stepped in to watch my children, time and time again, many times overnight, oh, how they blessed me.  Friends who provided meals time and again, or even bags of groceries, oh, how they lifted burdens from us.  Sometimes people gave to us in form of money tucked into an envelope, and it often came just when we needed it most.  I stand humbled by such generosity.  And still so many more, that spent time on their knees boldly approaching the throne, interceding on our behalf.  I stand in awe of such faith, and I am reaping the benefits of it today.  You all have taught us what the body of Christ SHOULD be.  You have exhorted us, upheld us, loved us, and cared for us, as if we were your very own flesh.  I do not say this lightly, when I say, we could not have made it through the last couple of years without you.  You were the hands and feet of Jesus to this family. 

And now we have an opportunity, an incredible opportunity, that I am so very humbled by.  We have the opportunity to be the family for a five-year old little Filipino boy, that has some special needs.  Would you pray about partnering with us to bring him home?  We need you, our ‘family’ to help us.  We need you to pray for us, everyday.  This is an intense journey, it is riddled with highs and lows, would you pray for a smooth process for us.  Would you pray for a quick process for us?  He’s been waiting a long time.  We are ready for his wait to be over.  We are specifically praying that God would move mountains and allow him to be home by his 6th birthday.

International adoption, is unfortunately, not free. Tomorrow we are so very privileged to be featured on www.give1save1.com for a week!  Would you consider donating a dollar and spreading the word to all of your friends?  One dollar bills can add up so quickly!

Would you consider what God would have you to do for the fatherless?  Maybe you have an extra room in your home.  Maybe you have an empty space in your heart.  Maybe you feel a tug when you read an adoption story.  Maybe your story is waiting to be written.  Not everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to help in someway.  What will it be for you?

“For I was an hungred, and ye gave Me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took Me in;

Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, Lord, when saw we Thee an hungred, and fed Thee?  or thirsty and gave Thee drink?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto Me.”  Matt. 25:35,37,40

Our boy, is ‘the least of these’ in many eyes.  He is waiting with many, many others.  Would you step out and help him come home?  I believe that by doing so, you are ministering to God’s very heart.  That ministering, friends, will not go unnoticed.

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Learning to Lose

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“…he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.”  Matt. 10:39

It goes against every part of our nature, the idea of letting go.  We are like the tight fisted two-year-old, our hands are grasping, our fingers clenched, the very idea of releasing that thing that we so desire, is completely foreign to us.  I know this, and so does HE.  And yet He whispers, softly to let Him have control.

My profession is wedding photography.  I love many aspects of it.  I am blessed.  One of my favorite moments of every wedding is when the bride’s parents see her for the first time.  The sheer emotion of seeing their daughter as the bride, is a beauty to behold.   The moment has come.  This is the moment that they give her away.  They knew it was coming, and the pride is evident, and it is deserved.  Their little girl, who is standing before them, is radiant.  Words are scarce, all is spoken between them in looks.  The last year and a half, I would hide behind my camera as unwanted tears would slip down my cheeks in these moments.  I would think, “I hope they know how lucky they are!  I would give my whole world to have this moment with Lydia someday.”

We didn’t share it with many people.  The pain was too great.  In fact, we could hardly bear to speak about it between the two of us.  It hurt just to breathe.  After the dr. diagnosed her with eptihelial downgrowth, his prognosis was completely grim.  It is the only time I have cried in his presence, but I shook with sobs, and literally begged him to tell me this wasn’t as bad as it sounded.  He gently shook his head, and apologized, but assured me that it truly was that bad.  However, there was an experimental drug, not FDA approved.  He expected we would need to make a decision if we would like to use it within the next couple of weeks.  The drug would, most likely affect her fertility.  Even just speaking of it now, causes my heart to race, and tears to well.  If we choose not to proceed, the downgrowth would not only cause her complete loss of vision, but it would deform her eyes, and they would have to be removed.  Bile rose in the back of my throat hearing his words, and it took every last effort of mine to refuse to be sick in his presence.

It was a very, very difficult time for me, for us as a couple, for us as a family.  I was suddenly jealous of all new parents.  Bitter thoughts threatened to overtake me, as yet another perfect, baby entered the world.  Watching a newly made grandparent nearly left me undone.  Would Justin and I ever enjoy that moment with Lydia?  Would she ever forgive us if we choose the drug, and took that option away from her?  And worse yet, would I ever be able to forgive myself?  I didn’t know the answers to any of those questions.

Entitlement is a dangerous path.  It corrupts your thinking.  It threatened to ruin mine.  Feeling sorry for yourself becomes more attractive than taking every thought into capitivity.  Measuring my thoughts up to His truth, I stood wanting.

Somehow, in my moments of loosing my grip, He Who is my Redeemer, taught me anew of redemption.  Even the worst moments of life can be won over.  In the hands of the Potter, He can create a masterpiece of that which seems ruined.  He is not finished, He’s still working, still redeeming, still molding.  And I, am still learning.  I am learning that I have a new love for all things broken.  I am learning that often those that seem most unlovely, are filled with hidden treasures.  I am learning that when the story is in the hands of the Author, He changes the ending – and it is always beautiful, because that’s what He does.  He makes all things beautiful, in His time.

I can’t understand why God has blessed us so much.  His love for me, overwhelms me.  He blessed me, he blessed us with the gift of glaucoma.  He gave us the gift of seeing.  Our world is such a different place, such a better place, such a prettier place because of this gift.

And today, I find myself thankful.

Wisdom

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“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth ot all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”  James 1:5

“Wisdom,” I tell them. “is knowing how to choose what is important.”

Solomon sought it above all else, and God was so pleased with his decision, that He gave him everything he did not ask for.  I ask for it daily.  I ask for it for myself, and for it to be implanted into hearts of the 4 little ones living under my care.  I pray it over their sleeping forms at night.  His wisdom poured over each of us is my plea.

Glimpses of answered prayers seen in unexpected ways is becoming the pattern of my life.  Small glimpses.  Large lessons.

It was an exciting day.  We had ridden the metro in, and were meeting friends in a big, crowded city.  It was to be a day of fun, visiting, and memory making.  We were all excited.  I was concentrating on finding just the right location to meet our friends.  I was in a hurry.  The streets were busy.  I was rushing them.  I hardly noticed the small hand tucked into mine, tugging for my attention.  “What is it, Sweetie?”  I asked distracted.  “An ambulance, Mommy.”  he replied.  I hurried on.  I did not want to take the time to look or listen.  Undaunted, he tugged my hand again.  I looked down into big, brown eyes pleading.  “Mommy, did you hear me?  I said there was an ambulance.  I want to pray for them.”  And so, on the corner of a crowded sidewalk my little son, becoming a young man so very quickly, led the 5 of us in prayer.  I failed to hear any of his words over the din of the traffic, but I heard every word his heart spoke.

In the fast moment of closing my eyes and bowing with my children, I saw visions of the many times that ambulance has been for one of us.  I will not know until heaven if strangers stopped to pray for us, but whose to say they didn’t move God on our behalf?  My son is 6.  He is young, and he is learning.  He, like his Momma has many missteps, but on this day, at this moment, he choose what was important.  He choose to see someone else’s need before his own.  He choose wisdom.  And isn’t that how life is?  Small moments of choices pile into lifetimes.  It is in the small moments that make the greatest impact.  The hurting one in the ambulance will never know a 6 year old boy was praying for him, it may never make a difference for him, but it surely made a difference to me.  How is it that those you seek to teach, end up teaching you?   Sometimes the most fleeting moments, make all of the difference in the world.

Waiting

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I’ve read it over and over.  It may be the best piece of paper I’ve seen.  It says his full name.  It talks about us adopting him.  It’s beautiful.

It was the end of Sept. in 2006 when he entered the world.  I wonder what I was doing that day.  I stare at the date and try to remember anything significant that stands out about it.  Did I somehow know, that he entered the world that day?  Did his birthmother cry with joy and wonder when she saw him?  Did she kiss all over him and tell him how amazing he was?  Did she snuggle him close to her and comfort him when he cried in those 10 days that she mothered him?

My heart hurts for all of the moments we have lost.  I was across the ocean when he got his first tooth, when he took his first steps, and when he spoke his first words.  I am greedy to reclaim all the milestones yet to come.  I find myself praying that none of his teeth fall out just yet, because I want to be the tooth fairy.  Justin and I pray everyday that we are able to bring him home so his next birthday cake is here, with us.  I hope that we get to teach him how to ride a bike.  I hope that Justin gets to be the first person to take him fishing.

Five and a half years is a long time to wait for a mommy to kiss you.  Five and a half years is a long time to wait for a daddy to teach you to play ball.  Five and a half years is a long time to wait for brothers to be your best friends.  Five and half years is a long time to wait for a little sister to look up to you.  Five and a half years is a long time to wait for a home of your very own, for your own dog to love you through thick and thin, for a toothbrush to hang next to your brothers and sister’s.  Five and a half years is a long time to wait to make cookies with your mommy.  Five and a half years is a long time to wait to say bedtime prayers with your family.  Five and a half years is a long time to wait to hear you mommy and daddy and brothers and sister singing  “Happy Birthday to you!”.  Five and a half years is a long time to have to wait to belong.

I know in those moments that we were absent, HE was present.  When we found out about this new little one,  we decided to give him the middle name John.  We have a special friend at church.  He is a WWII veteran.  We love him dearly.  He fought in the Philippines in the war.  It was a hard time for him.  We wanted to give our son his name to honor him, and as a reminder to all of us that HE makes all things new.  His name is John.  It was a  perfect name.  A name that means “God is gracious”.  It is a good name.  It was the right name for our new one.  We agreed.  When I recieved the email with his full name on it, I found myself wiping away tears that continued to spill down my cheeks.  His middle name?  JOHN.  HE already knew.

Hang in there, little buddy!  The waiting is almost over!  We are coming!

Saying yes

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“He setteth the solitary in families;”  Ps. 68:6

It all began innocently enough.  I was showing the boys the Susan Boyle youtube video when she first wowed the judges.  We talked about prejudices, and I felt good about the character lesson I had shared with them.  When it was over, youtube suggested another video.  The boys pleaded for one more, and I consented.  This one was a little boy who was an orphan with a voice like an angel.  I was brought to tears myself hearing his story and hearing him sing.  When it was over, the boy with eyes that so mirror my own tearfully implored, “Mom?  Can’t we adopt him?”  I assured him that the whole world was probably willing to take this child in, and we need not worry about it.  I was poisoning him with my own narcissism.  We watched one more, this one was a 19-year-old boy who was also an orphan.  He was too old to be adopted, and the young nearly man, wept in front of the cameras from his life long wish of a family.  A little hand on my arm, and those big eyes again, “How about him, Mommy.  He needs a family.”  I was quickly becoming undone.  I spent hours that turned into days reminding myself that we had problems.  We were in no position to take in a broken child.  How could I mother a broken little one, when I was nearly broken myself?

Isn’t that what HE does, though?  He uses broken vessels.  He takes the pieces and molds it into something beautiful.  As the days passed, prayers were lifted from a little seven-year old heart, asking God to let us adopt an orphan.  Something happens when children pray.  Heavens open, and mountains move.  Perhaps it is because they are so innocent, their hearts so pure.  They are untainted by the worries of adulthood.  They embody altruism.  I saw in him who I wanted to become.

Justin and I talked.  We went over all of the logistics, and how none of it, not one piece made sense.  We would adopt eventually.  We agreed that now was not the right time.  Someday, we would step out, but not today.  Surely no one could blame us.  We had enough problems.  And herein was the lie.  That serpent is so very clever.  We had bought into the deception that to adopt would be to add to our problems.  How little value we place on children!  We have become a society that values convenience and easy living over taking care of precious little lives.  We say that we are pro-life.  We ardently oppose abortion.  But what of the babies whose mother’s choose life, but were unable to care for them?  What of them?  Are we pro-life for them as well?  Do they deserve the kind of lives our children enjoy?  Do they deserve to have a place to call home?

It was a pivotal moment for me, for us as a family.  We decided to change our line of reasoning.  Instead of saying it can’t be me, we started asking, why not me?  Declaritives became imploratives.  A still small Voice was calling, and we were listening.  I am so grateful for such a kind Teacher.  Because in all of my objections, what I didn’t realize was how strong love is.  HIS love for me, and my love for a little 5-year-old across the oceans.  Oh, He is so good to allow us to be a part of this!  He is restoring me by way of a small orphan boy.  How much I would have missed!  The best is yet to come, my friends.  The best is yet to come.  We are working on lots and lots of paperwork and getting ready to schedule the homestudy.  With each paper we complete, it is one step closer to our boy!

His light

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“And I have put MY words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, …”  Is. 51:16

We were about 10 years old, and had been planning it for weeks.  Her mom finally gave us permission, and nothing on planet earth could contain our excitement.  We were going to spend the sleepover in the coveted camper.  Just me and the girl who had been my best friend for my entire life.  The camper was located approximately 20 feet from the house, therefore making it an entirely separate location.  We were grown up in my mind, practically adults, and totally ready to spend the night by ourselves.  Armed with snacks and plenty of secrets to unload, and two over active imaginations, we entered the camper for the night.  After thoroughly exploring every nook of the camper, and sharing every possible secret we could think of, and giggling til our sides hurt, our eyes began to get a little heavy.  As we were starting to drift off, we heard something brushing up against the camper.  “Em, did you hear that?!”  Beads of sweat ran down my neck as I breathed in what I was sure would be my last gulp of fresh air until the axe murder came to reap his vengeance.  “Tiff, do you think we should go inside?”  Truly, it took us probably a full 30 minutes to work up the courage to run inside the house.  The next morning as we broke the news to her mother that the axe murder of the safest town in America was most definitely lurking outside of the camper last night, she absolutely did not believe us.  She took us outside and showed us our ‘axe murderer’.  It was a big branch that when the wind blew, brushed up against the camper making it sound (with a little imagination) like someone trying to get inside.  The light revealed the truth about the scariness of the dark.  In the light, it wasn’t scary at all, there was nothing to be fear.

Here I stand, 22 years later, and still not as far removed from the fearful girl of yesteryear as I would like to project.  Monsters still lurk in the darkness of my life, only now, I’ve learned to run to the Light.  He writes His words over my fears, redeeming, loving, and guiding.  In the darkness of my fear, I met with her.  Genetic counsellor was her title, but I am still left wondering how meeting with her helped me, or added to my life at all.  She was certainly kind and pleasant as she asked 100 personal and seemingly irrelevant life questions.  Her job was to tell me ‘my chances’.  Meaningless ratios of potential disasters to come was what I was allowing myself to be told.  She stood there with kindness, but she emanated the one emotion I loathe the most…pity.  In all of her ratios and worst case scenarios, she failed to mention how awesome my girl was.  She neglected to tell me how blessed I was to have her in my life.  She never factored in HIM.

“If I had known, I never would have had her, you know?  I would have had an abortion.”  She confessed.  “You don’t mean that.”  I whispered back.  I had spent so much of my life judging others.  Isn’t that what good Baptists do?  We judge under the guise of discerning…atleast I did.  Somewhere between my first and fourth child, I ran out of stones to throw.  I sat with her, listening to her speak, and understanding far more than anything else.  I do not and will not condone abortion under any circumstance.  But, I understood her guilt.  I understood her fear.  I understood her pain.  In a former part of my life I would have judged her.  Today, I hurt for her.

Unless you have held the best part of your life in your arms and listened numb as a dr. gave a diagnosis that you could barely pronounce, much less understand the full ramifications of, you cannot understand.  After the diagnosis, they hand you over to the genetic counsellor.  If I had it to do all over again, I would NEVER have spoken to the genetic counsellor.  She was a very nice woman, who in no way was unkind to me, but I hated how it made me feel.  There is guilt, a LOT of guilt when you have a special needs child.  It descends upon you mercilessly.  It hunts your relentlessly.  The chat with the genetic counsellor is the nail on the coffin.  You, out of your own selfish desires have created a mistake, is what they seem to say.  We live in a world of oxymorons.  Our society screams equality, but when a child is born in a fashion that they deem less than perfect, they project that it would have been better if they had never been born.  But that is not what HE says.  He says they are precious.  He writes His words over mine.  His presence is greater than my fear

It’s no wonder in this world of cacophony of diagnosing and testing and predicting, that we have drowned HIS voice from our hearts.  We seek lies over truth.  We pride ourselves on acceptance and tolerance, but who tolerates our little ones born with ‘defects’?  They come at us with diagnosis after diagnosis, and send us to the genetic counsellor that assures us the world would be a better place if we had not procreated and we are left with a heart full of sorrow and enough guilt to suffocate us and an innocent baby that bears our name.  Flesh of our flesh.  It is then that He speaks. He offers the paradigm shift to the morbidity.  He Who authored and designed our genetic code reminds us that she is special.  Every part of her was created in my inmost being, and He doesn’t make mistakes.

And to our new little boy that we hope to call son.  His papers say cognitive delays.  It’s okay.  That’s not what HE says.  He says, He is precious.  He is special.  He is wanted.

I pray that He would continue to speak His words into my mouth.  I pray that I would choose faith over doubt, that when the darkness threatens to conquer me, I would step into His light.  When He shines His light on the situation, I realize there is nothing to fear.  There are only treasures here.

Not Forsaken

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“Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb?  yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”  Is. 49:15

Five and a half years ago a mother had a beautiful son, but there were complications.  He was born too early.  She was scared.  The doctors weren’t sure what his medical needs would be.  It frightened her.  The bill was going to be much more than she could pay.  In this particular country of her residence, money was scarce.  The fear must have been suffocating.   It must have been with great brokenness, such so that I cannot imagine, she quietly slipped away from the hospital, and left her precious baby there, and was never heard from again.  He was abandoned.  Yet, he was not forsaken.

A decision was made.  He was bundled in a white outfit and swaddled in a white blanket.  A social worker brought this beautiful white bundle to an orphanage.  However, this wasn’t just any orphanage, this was a special orphanage.  This place is a place full of love, and laughter, and sharing about Jesus.  This baby was loved and treasured at this place.  When he was sick, he was given the best medical care.  He was fed and held and had many opportunities to do many fun and incredible things.  As wonderful as this place is, he was still an orphan.  While he had many people who loved him, he was still missing the love of his very own Mommy and Daddy.  His status still read ‘abandoned’.  But he was not forsaken.

An American family came to this place one day.  They came to make a 15-year-old boy their son.  While they were there they met this sweet 5-year-old.  He stole their hearts.  Tears clouded their vision when they had to say goodbye to him.  He belonged in a family.  They came home, and talked about this boy.  They began to pray for him.  They prayed he would have a family.  Due to the laws in this country, you cannot adopt more than one child at a time, and you have to wait 2 years between adoptions.  Although they loved him, they did not want him to have to wait 2 more years for a family , and so they prayed.

As I was searching the internet one day, I stumbled upon a beautiful blog.  The family had adopted 4 children from the Philippines.  Justin had just been on a missions trip to the Philippines, and he fell in love with the people and culture.  I loved reading her stories.  She had 4 beautiful stories of redemption and love.  I decided to email her and tell her how much I enjoyed her blog.  I shared with her our plans for the Bartimeaus Project, and hoped that we would be able to get involved in the Filipino orphanages.  She wrote back, and in an instant became a stranger turned friend.   She was so encouraging.  We emailed back and forth, and then one time, she told me about him.  She told me about the little boy that they met at the orphanage.  She asked me to pray for him.  I hesitantly agreed.  Justin and I began to pray for this little one.

When God writes something on your heart, he transforms even the most fearful objections, into something lovely.  We began to speak in sporadic, halting whispers about what our house would look like with one more boy.  Well, we could add bunk beds here.  End conversation.  HE was working.  HE was writing.  HE was restoring.  And He was asking.  Perhaps it was because there was no room in the inn for him at his birth, that He asks us to have room in ours.  The Bible is full of verses calling us to entertain strangers, and calling us to take care of the fatherless.  He was knocking at our door, asking us if there was room in our inn.  In our season of brokenness, He was going to allow us to be a part of restoration.  He was going to add to our hearts, expanding our love, and allow us oh, such a joy, of this beautiful little boy.

And so, we began to fall in love with this little 5 year old half a world away ,who was abandoned but not forsaken.  HE wasn’t finished.  He is the Author, writing a beautiful masterpiece.  I for one, can’t wait to see how it unfolds.  I am particularly looking forward to the part in the story, when a certain American family with 3 boys and a girl get the untold joy of changing his status from ‘abandoned’ to ADOPTED.