Monday, May 31, 2010

What Does It Mean to be Hungry?

Food has been a huge issue in our house since George came home. He doesn't hoard food, but he does eat...constantly...and a lot...always. He eats until he has a stomach ache. He eats if there are any left overs sitting on the stove. He eats if there is a special treat in the room until it is gone.

A lot of this comes from years of being hungry. I can't even imagine how a child's brain works when his body has been starving for years and then suddenly there is an abundance of food. I am not sure when he will understand that there WILL be more food tomorrow. Or, for that matter, that there will be food for the next meal.

George wakes us, eats breakfast and then immediately asks, "What's for lunch?"

When he gets home from school, he eats a snack and then asks, "What's for dinner?"

He eats as much as Joe these days.

And he is growing! He went from a size 4 to a size 8-10 in one year! He was much closer to Lincoln's size when we picked him up, and now he is creeping up on Isabel's height. His trunk has filled in...but his arms and legs are still so skinny.

So, I have been thinking a lot lately about what it really means to be hungry. And I have NO IDEA what that is like. Sure, there have been moments, or days in which I was very active and a meal was put off and I grumbled, "I am starving!" But we all know that I was FAR from starving. I don't know what it is like to go to sleep hungry.

George tells his brothers and sisters all the time that he only ate one time a day in Ethiopia. Can you imagine feeding our children only one meal a day? With no snacks in between?

Yesterday, while we were sitting in church, George picked up a note pad and a pencil and wrote these words, "Thank you Jesus! You gave me food."

We can talk about children being hungry around the world...but it is just talk for most of us. We don't know the reality of it. We don't SEE the children or HEAR their cries. And we have become bitter at the commercials that beg us to send $10 a month to feed a child. But the truth is there are millions of hungry children right now in the world...who are praying to Jesus for food.

God can use you to bring food...and healing...to at least one child. Will you think about it?

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Do You Want to Be Challenged?

I was led to her blog...and it has changed my life. I want you to read about this girl, she is living with HIV and started a blog to share her experiences with you. Go to the side bar and look for her.

Maybe she will change how you view children with HIV.

Maybe she will change how you view adopting a child.

Maybe she will challenge you to do something you never though you would do.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Two Short Stories


God gave me another gift: He used a ministry leader at church to tell me about something George said.


Last Sunday was a celebration Sunday for all the kids "graduating" into the next level. George, being a 1st grader, was spending his last day at Celebration Station (or something like that, I can't keep all the names straight in my head). Parents were invited to join the celebration, but Joe and I could not attend, so we did not witness this first hand.


The children's pastor was talking to the kids about how much God loves them. She said that God loves you so much He gave you a mommy and a daddy. George threw his arm in the air, you know, doing that kid who can't want to share what's on his mind kind of arm in the air, dance, hop around thing. The pastor called on him and this is what he said.


"God loves me so much He gave me a new mommy and daddy. And they flew all the way to Africa to pick me up."


I was told there was not a dry eye in the room.


Thursday morning, as we waited at the end of the driveway for the school bus to come, George commented on the cool clouds. They were pretty unusual, low lying clouds off in the distance. He asked me, "Is Jesus up in the clouds?"


I hesitated because I wasn't quite sure how to answer, after all, where is Jesus? But, I knew what he was thinking and as I was debating in my head how to answer Lincoln chimes in, "Well, Jesus is ABOVE the clouds."


"Yes, boys, Jesus is up there."


George smiled and said, "Good! Because these same clouds are like clouds in Africa. And that means Jesus is in Africa, too."


"Amen," was all I could say.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

It's Me...Not Him

As I laid in bed this morning, wrestling with God over having to get up and "be nice" to George, God spoke to me. You see, yet again, George was mean to me at night...again. I think this has become some sort of power game or manipulation. I think he is now figuring how how mean he can be to mom and will mom still love me in the morning. Last night, I was furious. I screamed at Joe to make George stop. Joe just laughed at me and said, "Go to bed." Joe then also reminded me that George is a child...a troubled child who came from a very hard place...a place that my mind can't even imagine. He's just a scared child figuring this out.

And then I thought of how these past few posts could be scaring mommas out there who are in the process of adopting. I am so sorry if my words have been discouraging...sometimes I need to work out my feelings and emotions on the world wide web :) Eventually, God breaks through my thoughts and brings me back to truth.

So, this morning, as I was still angry at George, God broke through and said, "He's a child. You are the parent. And I have called you to this. Now get up and do it."

I found George, hugged him and said, "I love you. I want you to know that no matter how mean you are to me each night, I will still love you each morning. And each day, I will pray for you and will look forward to enjoying the day with you. If you want to be mean every night, I will still love you."

He asked me, "Does it hurt your heart when I am mean?"

I replied, "Yes. Very much."

He said, "I'm sorry. I won't do it again."

I paused and then said, "George, you have said that every morning for the past week. And every night you are still incredibly mean to me. Please don't just say the words...I want you to think about this tonight when you are ready to be mean again."

We'll try again tonight. And until then, I am praying for my boy and working on how I can earn his trust.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pray for My Friend

Can you go to my friend's blog....it's right there on the side called "Our Life's Adventure".

She needs your prayers. God knows the details. Please.

Reading the Psalms

Every time this happens, I am amazed. I know that God's word is living and active, but when it teaches me, I still am humbled and surprised. It happened again this morning.

The kids and I were doing our daily morning reading, which found us in Psalm 131. I love this Psalm, and thanks to Sons of Korah, I know this one by heart. As a side note, this song ran through my head the entire time I was in the hospital after giving birth to Lincoln.

"My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me."

So, for years, this Psalm spoke to me about my sin..namely my pride. And, as I would sing this song to God, I would continue to focus on NOT being proud and understanding that all of God's ways are higher than my ways, and many times I simply do not have the capacity to understand them...so what is there to be proud of? I am not saying I have licked the pride thing, but God sure has humbled me over the past two years! (Thank you, God.)

But, somewhere along the line, I heard teaching on this Psalm and wrote a note in my Bible. Next to the "weaned child" portion I wrote this: "developed trust in God". And this is what struck me this morning.

Who is a weaned child? I know what this is from years of being a mom. Weaned children are past the baby stage and have been so filled with the abundant love I have poured into them from birth, that now they stand on their own, take steps away from Mom. But, they take those steps with great confidence, knowing that Momma is right there. Through countless hours of bonding and feeding, skin to skin contact, my children slowly developed TRUST. Through every cry that was responded to, to every need that was met, to completely undivided attention, my children learned to completely trust Momma. They still trust me to this day.

They know I care for them. They know I will do everything I can to meet their needs, and even their wants. They know I discipline them for their good.

George has not developed that trust yet. But, I have not had the opportunity to pour into him as much as I did my home made kids. We didn't have those close, skin to skin contact times. In fact, when I tried to hold him in those early months, he would push and squirm away. We cuddle a bit now, but he is 7 and how many 7 year old boys cuddle for long? I didn't feed him, George has always been able to feed himself. And his trust in me is taking a long time to come.

A friend sent me a blog link about a family that was struggling with bonding with their adopted daughter. They visited a therapist, completely thinking their daughter would be worked with, not expecting that the therapist would ask them to participate. The therapist gave mom pretzels and said, "Feed your daughter". Sounds weird, I know, but the mom goes on to explain how much that one simple act, of feeding her daughter pretzels (actually putting them in her mouth, not just handing them to her) improved the bonding between mom and daughter.

I think that is the "weaned child" that I have been looking for. I have been so discouraged over the lack of trust that George has in me...and I have to admit here that maybe I haven't been doing all I could to build that trust. The past year has been about love and forgiveness. Maybe this year is all about building trust.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Discouraging

Things are getting very discouraging on the adoption board I am a member of. Many of my friends who have adopted older kids from Ethiopia are hurting. Deeply and profoundly hurting. I read of their trials and their struggles and I simply weep. And then I look at the toll this adoption has taken of my family and I weep some more.

In no way has this journey been easy. I have written a lot lately about the challenges and the level of frustration among all of us. What we are experiencing in our little world is different than what the experts have talked about. And these mommas who are walking an even harder path than I are crying out for help.

Our children were not put into orphanages as infants. Our children were given love and nurturing as babies. Our children have living relatives in Ethiopia they know and remember. Our children have good memories of life before coming to America. And many of them were told of the wonderful, easy life they would have here. When reality sets in, these children are angry. Very, very angry.

George has decided it is time to go to Disney World. I have no idea where he heard about Disney World, but he is adamant that we go...like tomorrow...and when we say we can't, he stomps off to his room and slams the door.

I read the stories of these mommas and I feel two things: I feel gratitude that things are not THAT bad here. One mom even wrote, "I think if kids are adopted before they turn, say 7 or 8, they can push the re-start button and begin a new life." Many of the moms who are struggling have adopted tweens or teenagers. The next thing I feel is anger toward Ethiopia. This is a culture where kids grew up never being told "no". Imagine how challenging that is for the kids coming to live here - and also US! Just last night, I got what has become a regular response from George at bedtime. I was reading books to George and Lincoln when George decided he didn't want to listen. I gave him a choice, sit down on the couch and finish the book or go on to bed. He chose to go to bed - and once in bed, he throws the covers over his head and says, "No hug for Momma."

Can I just tell you how sick I am of seeing this re-enacted night after night after night? How many times do we have to go through this routine...George gets mad at mom, refuses to say good-night, wakes up the next morning and acts like nothing ever happened. This morning, I tried to talk to him about it...and so he proceeds to take his writing for the month of May and throw it in the trashcan. That was after looking me in the eye and starting to tear up his writing. He knows I love to read his month of writing...and we usually sit at the dinner table and share it with Dad after I look at it. He decided to take that away from us this month.

I know I am ranting this morning. After George did that this morning, I cried and I asked God, "How much longer?" I seriously wonder how much longer I can continue this way. I am still being asked to love, forgive, love, forgive, love, forgive....and I am growing weary.

And then I go to the place where I usually get a lot of support, and read story after story of mommas who are hurting much worse than I am. It's a little discouraging these days.

Again, I am reminded that God never promised this would be easy. But, He did ask me to walk this path....will you pray for me?

Friday, May 21, 2010

So Stubborn

Oh, George can be so stubborn! George's class was going on a field trip to a planetarium after a few weeks of learning about our solar system. George was so excited and all week long was counting down the days until Thursday, the day he would finally board a bus and head to the place to see the stars.

I thought it might be wise to explain what a planetarium is before he got there. I know all too well how we reacts to new situations. So, Joe and I talked about how the room would get really dark and how he could sit back in a chair and then slowly stars would start to appear. I had just been there this time last year, and I tried to remember every detail so he would have an idea of what to expect.

And so, George got even more excited.

Thursday morning found George awake around 5:30am. He tip-toed into my room and said, "I have to get to school. My teacher said we can't be late to school."

"Um...ok...but, you are never late to school. The bus always gets you there on time....", I think this is what I said, because I am a slow waker-uper.

"Momma! I dressed, I ready, I need to eat breakfast."

I knew I was not going to be able to reason with George on this one. So, I got up and prepared his breakfast. In the meantime, he grabbed his backpack and put it on. Next, came his shoes. By 6:00am, he was totally ready for school. The problem is, the bus doesn't come until 6:35.

I told George to just go sit down and relax somewhere.

He screamed at me, "No! I can't be late to school today!"

I sipped my coffee, trying to figure out how I could convince George that he would not be late. I couldn't think of anything. He then announced, "I'm going to wait for the bus." And he walked out of the house.

And there he stood....from 6:05 to 6:35. Thirty minutes he stood still at the end of the driveway waiting for the bus.

While I watched him, I was drawn back to my very first sight of George. There he stood in the orphanage. Completely still with a backpack on his back, he stood and stood while he waited for us. Like the planetarium, I am sure the nannies told him what to expect, but just like the planetarium, words can only do so much. George was excited because he was told he was going to get on a plane and go to America. Beyond that, I am not sure how much he really understood. Or...now I see this stubborn boy who might have been told, but he was so so set on his idea and his way that he couldn't see past getting on a plane and going to America.

As I saw George at the end of the driveway, jaw set, eyes focused and so determined to catch that bus, I saw George in the orphanage; same set jaw, same focused eyes and so determined to catch that plane. We had a incredibly hard week in Ethiopia because George kept wondering when he was going to get on a plane. He couldn't understand the wait.

Just like he couldn't understand the wait for the bus.

So, here comes the spiritual lesson, that in this very moment God is revealing to me. He is telling me, "That is you. That is what you look like when I have a plan for you and you won't wait on me." Ouch. There I stand, jaw set and eyes focused, truly believing that I know better than God. As George stood down there, I sighed at his foolishness, but I kept a constant watch over him, making sure he was safe. God is doing that with me, huh? I stand foolishly at the end of my driveway, ready for the next big thing, the next bus or plane, and He sits in the house keeping an eye on me at all times, wishing though, that I would just come back in and sit down for a minute or two.

I called Joe yesterday morning and lamented that George still doesn't completely trust me. Maybe God was just giving me a picture of myself...and He is saying, "You still don't completely trust me yet, do you?"

Who is the stubborn one?

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Holy Discontent

Joe and I are feeling that holy discontent again.

We felt it about two years ago in August. We ended up coming home from a vacation having made the decision to adopt. We have no vacations planned this year, but that holy discontent is back again.

What is a holy discontent? Well, it is different than simply being discontent with our circumstances or our surroundings. And while it is hard to believe, we are not discontent with our life right now. Despite living close to the poverty level for a family our size, and not owning a home, and not sure if our new business will ever take off, we are living in peace.

If you would have told me two years ago that the holy discontent we were experiencing would lead to how we are living today, I would have ran screaming the other direction holding my hands up to my ears. I had hoped to be in a large, beautiful home by now...filled with new furniture, my kids with braces on their teeth and each with their own laptop. I would have upgraded my mini-van to a new SUV of some sort, and Joe would be continuing to toil for "The Man". But, we would have good insurance...and we would have never even known what ring worm looks like!

But, no, God took our holy discontent and totally changed us.

According to Bill Hybels, holy discontent is whether it is social injustice, AIDS, bad preaching, or wrecked marriages, what breaks the heart of someone who loves God most likely breaks God’s heart too—and it is often these “firestorms of frustration” that God will use to enlist you in setting what is wrong in this world right!

Joe and I are feeling a firestorm of frustration!

We sing a song at church that has these words:

Heal my heart and make it clean
Open up my eyes to the things unseen
Show me how to love like you have loved me

Break my heart for what breaks yours
Everything I am for your kingdom's cause
As I go from here to Eternity

Every time I sing these words...well...I can't actually sing them because my heart is literally breaking in two. And all I can do is cry. I believe the Holy Spirit in me turned some of my moaning and turned them into this prayer before God. And God answered.

I long for my heart to be made clean and that I would see people the way God sees them...and most importantly that I would learn how to truly love. God has given me a year of this lesson! And I praise God for that!

Then, I long for my heart to break when I see something that breaks God's heart. It is as if I am now living with the scales off my eyes. When I asked God for this, He answered. And He has shown me what is breaking His heart.

The fatherless is breaking His heart!!! The orphan crying in his bed. The fatherless girl being trafficked for sex. The starving children. The beaten children. The street kids. I can no longer act like I don't know these things exist. I have seen it. I have lived it.

And now, this holy discontent is back. Joe and I don't know exactly what this means. But, we do know God is laying a foundation for something else.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Words

Sometimes, no words need be spoken.

Yesterday morning, I met George in the kitchen. He looked at me, smiled and walked away. I smiled back. Then, he came running back in and hugged me. Tight. He squeezed and held on. This was not a typical good morning hug.

We lingered in the kitchen, just hugging for a minute or two. Then he walked away.

I knew what that hug was saying. And I forgave him.

Joe and I are committed to raising our children in a home where forgiveness is abundant. We vowed to never bring something back in their face. We won't say, "Remember that time you ran away? Well, I still have never forgiven you for that." No, when we forgive, we put it away for good.

I am trusting that this love and forgiveness will break through years of trauma.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Harsh Reminder


I was reminded last night how difficult adoption can be.


Crazy thing is we had a great day. George had a half day of school, came home to a lunch he loves and the opportunity to play outside with his brother all afternoon. When the older kids in the block came home, all the kids were outside shooting baskets and running around. George has so happy.


Then, we had pizza for dinner! George absolutely loves pizza. On his Mother's Day card for me, he wrote that I make the best pizza ever. I hated to tell him that actually someone named Papa Murphy makes the best pizza ever, I simply know how to put it in the oven.


After dinner, everyone got their pajamas on and we snuggled in for a family favorite, Survivor. Everyone was looking forward to it. We all have our favorites and enjoy cheering them on through the challenges. George got a little crazy, jumping on the couch, screaming, laughing. I asked him to settle down. He didn't. I asked again. He didn't. I scolded him, "You need to settle down or you will be going to bed."


He responded, "I'm going back to Africa!"


And off he went. In his pajamas and barefoot, he started walking. OK - we have been through this before. Last time, which was a long, long time ago, he made it to our next door neighbor's yard before he stopped. I was sure he would do the same thing. He didn't. He kept walking and walking and walking. He was walking through inch deep puddles in the ditches, but he kept going. It was starting to get dark, but he kept on going. When we couldn't see him anymore, Joe jumped into the car and raced after him.


At this point, the children all exploded. Lincoln was crying hysterically, "I don't want him to leave!". Harry was screaming at how sick he is of these games. Eleanor was furiously muttering things under her breath I can not repeat here. And Isabel just stared out the window. A year of frustrations all came out of the kids. They were so angry that George continues to rule our family by doing things like this.


I was so angry!


The last time he did this, I cried and held George and told him I loved him and didn't want to him to leave. This time, I was angry!


When George walked back into the house, I met him in the doorway and told him, very clearly, how angry I was. Not only was I angry, all the other kids were hurt by his action. None of our children have ever done that...none of them would be allowed to do that...none of them have ever thought of doing that.


I sent him to bed.


Adoption is hard. This came out of no-where! We had been having a wonderful month. In fact, I was thinking how I needed to write how things have been so good, that maybe we have really turned that proverbial corner. All I did was parent George the exact same way I parent all of the children when they are getting crazy. I didn't touch him, I didn't yell. I was firm, but in no way was this out of the ordinary for me. This is the life of adopting an older child, I guess. Something triggered a need to leave.


Adoption is messy. I realized tonight how much my children are affected by this. And sometimes they just need to let it all out. Our family is faced with the daily decision to love someone who has been incredibly un-lovable! And we all are challenged with forgetting the very un-lovable child and love the child standing before us. That is a hard enough lesson for an almost 40 year old woman! Imagine the challenge in a 13 year old girl's heart! God continues to ask us to go above and beyond - we can't get by with simply loving the lovely.


Adoption brings heartache. For everyone involved. I remember many times asking God, "If adoption is Your heart...if Your word says so clearly that we need to take care of the fatherless...why are You making this so hard for me???" I don't have an answer yet...I think it is maybe because God wanted to change us. But in that changing, I have experienced more heartache than I ever thought I could.


Adoption is difficult. But, as I write this, I am reminded that my trial is to be expected. I claim to be a Christian - a Christ-follower! If I follow Christ, his journey here on earth led to a pretty awful destination. Adoption is so hard, but I didn't have to hang on a cross.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Last Post-Placement Visit


I am sitting in a very quiet house for the moment. All five children are at school. And I am preparing for our last post-placement visit. We are a month late, no big deal. But this should be our last visit to discuss our adoption of George.


Thinking back, I will never forget the first post-placement visit. We had just moved out to the country and George was swimming at the neighbor's pool. He saw our social worker drive up and he raced home to use the bathroom. Trouble is, he didn't make it. So, there I was with my child who just wet himself on the driveway, a puppy barking like crazy, and thinking, "Great! She is going to take this kid away!".


But, the thing about talking with my social worker, is that she always finds a way to ask the questions that cause me to think of all the positives. And sure enough, that afternoon when the interview was done, I realized we had a lot of good things to talk about.


That was 9 months ago. And now, I find myself anxious for that car to pull up the driveway. I have hung some of George's artwork, I dug out some sample writing, and I can't wait for George to read a book to her. I want to tell her, "Everything has changed!"


For, things have really changed. Of course, there are the every-day annoying things that George does. But, I have a new realization of what he is doing now (thank you, Dr. Karyn Purvis!). Kids who have experienced trauma do one of three things: fight, flight or freeze. I had always heard about fight or flight. And we have had our share of flighting. But, generally, Georgie freezes. He puts his head down, gets a nasty scowl on his face and refuses to talk. And let me tell you, that drives me crazy! I would rather have a kid yelling at me (I think) than one who I wonder if he is even "in there". George freezes. Now I know. I don't get mad anymore about it. I try to talk him out of it. But....sigh...he still freezes at some point every day.


But, we are just a family now. A normal family.


I can't wait to tell her that.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Silence is Deafening

I left the Christian Alliance for Orphan Summit encouraged, inspired and ready to be an advocate for the fatherless. I told everyone who asked me about the heart-wrenching stories I heard. I challenged people to be able to name five orphans. I sent an email to my pastors sharing all I learned about what other churches around the country are doing.

But now, the silence is deafening.

Why isn't the church making orphan care and adoption advocacy a priority? I don't just mean my church...I mean "the church". Can somebody please tell me why pastors don't want to talk about this?

Can someone show me in God's word where God tells us "Don't worry about the fatherless. Let the orphan care for himself." Or, "Make sure your children's ministry has a wii homerun derby, your middle schoolers have a ball, your women have fancy cloud cut-outs to adorn the stage each morning, your congregation has entertaining power-points during the sermon." Where is THAT is God's word?

Forgive my ranting, I am very frustrated today. After adopting, after visiting an orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I am forever changed. As I walked through the streets of Africa, no longer did cloud cut-outs matter to me. When I heard the cries of babies lying in cribs for hours, power points suddenly lost their appeal.

But, what I don't understand is why isn't the church doing something about this? A friend of mine just wrote and said, "It is like God is standing there with a red flag waving frantically...over here! Over here! And yet, the church doesn't see Him." I agree. But can someone tell me why the church isn't looking?

I will say it again because I hear it running through my mind each and every day...we must move away from a religion of self-development and into a life of self-sacrifice. Please, if you have an answer, let me know.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Trip to the Zoo

We faced a weekend of cold, rainy days...but we decided to get out anyway and head to one of our favorite spots, the Madison Zoo. These pictures are completely out of order...sorry.
















And of course, the kids had to ride the carousel...although Lincoln kept saying, "I want to go to the sarakel!" I was so confused and it took me about an hour before I could figure out what he meant!

Even Eleanor isn't too old to wave at Mom and Dad as she rides by.




A mom and her kiddos.












Friday, May 7, 2010

Mother's Day THIS Year


I was sad last year on Mother's Day. I was freshly home with my new son...a son who didn't love his mom at all. Our family was so devastated from the month with George that no one felt like celebrating Mother's Day. I think the oldest two were angry, George was never happy, and the youngest two weren't sure what to feel.


I was exhausted, emotionally and physically. My heart hurt every day and I questioned what we had done to our "perfect" family. I was clinging to a hope that I didn't even totally buy into. Were things really going to get better?


Mother's Day last year found us sitting in church, with a boy I couldn't even stand to look at. Yet, there he sat, unwilling to go into Sunday School and thus planted right next to Dad. George probably didn't want to look at me either. In fact, if my memory serves me correct, after we came home, we were all on the back patio enjoying some warm sunshine when I tried to take a picture of George. For the hundredth time, he turned his back on me and the camera, but then smiled a wide grin when Joe tried to do the same thing. I remember that day I lost it. I stormed up to my room, slammed the door and tore some random piece of paper to shreds. I had to destroy something because I was so devastated by the complete rejection I was going through. Mother's Day last year was a bad day.


Yesterday, George ran up the driveway after school saying he wanted to show me something he wrote in school. Isabel tried to look, but he adamantly insisted that Momma be the only one to see it. He wrote, "I love my mom and I love my dad and I love me." At the top of the page, he drew a picture of himself, Joe and me - and Gunnar. What surprised me the most was how he drew himself and me to look so much alike. We look nearly the same in the picture, while Joe clearly looks different. I asked him about this and he said, "I look like you, Momma. We both have black hair."


Oh, how my heart swelled as I looked at my son, who know stares at me, smiles for me, and always wants a hug from me. My son who says we look alike. My son who now writes about his love for me...and for himself!


Lord, thank you for not letting me give up and quit on Mother's Day last year! Thank you for continuing to pour out so much love into my heart that the only response I had was to love YOUR child. God, you knew I could not do this past year on my own. And you knew that this son would drive me closer to YOU. And You knew it would get better, if I would simply be obedient to You and LOVE this child with a self-less, unconditional love. I thank you for the hard year...I am not the same woman. And I thank you for my son. Amen.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Raivu For Kids-Teaching youth to live with a purpose

Raivu


One of the best things about the Summit was the networking. I met so many people, all of whom were shining with the light of Christ. Everywhere I looked, people were taking, sharing, and encouraging one another. Everyone (and I can really say every one) I met was sincere, generous and so willing to share everything they are doing and what they have learned.




I spent a lot of time listening (I know...hard to believe) and came away blessed after every conversation. One such 5 minute conversation has stuck in my mind for days. I can't let this couple go and I want to introduce them to you...




So, I am sitting in a breakout session called "Orphan Ministry 201: Foster Care" when the speaker from Texas points to a couple and says, "You guys in Wisconsin are doing amazing things." The couple humbly nodded their heads. I stared at them. You are from Wisconsin? I had no idea! There they sat, covered in tattoos, edgy hair cuts and trendy clothing...totally cool. They were especially cool next to my pink collared shirt and capri pants - ha!


Once the session concluded, I bounded over people and chairs to catch this couple before they exited. "Where are you from? I need to know what you are doing!" I blurted out to a surprised woman.


After settling down, I began a heart-felt conversation with the woman of the pair (they husband had made it out before I could tackle him too). They have been working with foster kids in Green Bay for years and year. But, they felt a call by God to move closer to Milwaukee, to be able to start ministering to the over 3000 kids in foster care in the big city. A generous donor gave them several acres in prime real estate land just outside Milwaukee County. Their plan is to build a group home for teenagers in foster care - you know the ones NO ONE wants to dare to bring into their home. Yea, those teenagers are the kids this couple WANTS. The wife said, "For these kids, the first bump in the road derails them for life."


I learned this statistic at the Summit: 80% of kids that age out of the foster care system end up homeless or in prison within the first year. 80%. This should not be! So, I ask, Church...what are we going to do about this? It is no longer acceptable to bury our heads in the sand and say, "It's not my problem!" I ask, where would Jesus be? Would he be in the suburban neighborhood having a cook-out? Or would he be sitting in the group home of 40 teenagers?


So, this real estate is in an area where million dollar homes are built on 20 acres. Most families are privileged and have pretty much everything they need and most of what they want. Is it any surprise that they are now up in arms about the possibility of a group home being built in their town? What will happen to their appraisals?


Tonight, this couple are going to stand before the planning commission and ask that they be allowed to serve 40 teenagers who no one wants. And there will probably be a hundred people asking for them to be run out of town. If you feel led, will you pray for Raivu tonight?


I am learning that much of this work needs to be done on my knees.


I pray that compassion and mercy will prevail.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Name Five


There are over 147 million orphans in the world...but can you name five of them?


This question was recently posed by Kay Warren and shared at the Summit...and after the speaker asked this question, there was a stunned silence in the room. The number of fatherless and orphans is staggering. But the number says nothing to most people.


In fact, my own husband is guilty of saying it is just a number. I know he is simply being honest with me and encouraing me to find other ways to be an advocate. So, I am asking you...can you name five?


Of course, those of us in the adoption world CAN name five, but we make up such a small percentage of the population. It is time for all Christians to KNOW the orphan.


This is what I have come home with, the burden to encourage a church to move from self-development to self-sacrficie. We (and this is probably true for most American churches) are very good at developing a quiet time, knowledge, a better prayer life. We work at losing weight in light of scripture, having friends according to the words of the Bible, and we do a really good job of taking away personal applications from sermons. But all those things are about self-development. Arren't we "developed" enough by now?


Self-sacrifice. Who wants to do that? Jesus did. And we call ourselves Christians - Christ-like - yet are we self-sacrificial? I am afraid that for far too long, I was sacrificing the easy things in my life - but by definition, if it is easy, it is not sacrificing. I never understood this until this past year.


Do not be afraid of doing the hard things! The hard things bring you closer to Christ, to understanding the heart of God! Doing the hard things refines you, sanctifies you.


If you can't name five orphans today, and I mean orphans, not former-orphans, go to a website like adoptuskids.org or rainbowkids.com and start getting to know five today. Read their information and ask God to remind you to pray for them every day. Name five.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Worship at The Summit


I spent two amazing days at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Minneapolis, MN last week. I came home a changed woman. Of course, I was encouraged and motivated with ideas and strategies that surround ministry, but more than that; I left more in love with Jesus.


There are so many things I want to share about the Summit, and I am sure I will write for days on the different speakers, seminars and conversations I had. But what sticks out most in my mind was the worship and prayer. I have never been to a Christian convention, only education conventions and homeschooling ones, so I wonder if what I experienced is actually customary at a Christian gathering. But, wait, now that I think about it, of course I have been to Christian events; women's retreats, youth retreats when I was younger. Again, there was something so different about this gathering of saints.


I called Joe and one point and said, "There is something so different here."


To which he replied, "You are in a room with over 1000 people who are all walking the walk."


True. And when it came time to worship, the Holy Spirit moved in mighty ways to unite these thirteen hundred souls. While each and every worship session brought me to tears with hands raised high, a few experiences really stand out. The first would be with Steven Curtis Chapman. He sang after his wife shared a very moving testimony about their past few years. If you don't remember, almost two years ago their family experienced a great tragedy. There was an accident in their driveway that resulted in the death of their youngest daughter. While her story was heartbreaking, she is clearly giving God all the glory. Then, Steven came on stage and sang his way through three of his well-known songs. When he sang, "It's All Yours, God", everyone started spontaneously standing, raising hands...singing along, "everything is YOURS!". Later, as Steven led us in worship of several familiar songs, we all sang words such as "You give and take away, but blessed be your name" and others...OK, I have to admit I am totally drawing a blank here :(. As I boarded the shuttle heading back to my hotel, I was exhausted and drained, yet invigorated at the same time. All the riders were a buzz talking with their seat-mates as we shared how God was moving in our hearts during the past hours.


Then, the next morning, what better way to start the day then to be on our knees singing, "Holy, holy, holy Lord God almighty. Early in the morning our songs shall rise to thee...". This was followed by The Desperation Band, who I had no idea sings one of my absolute favorite songs! More on their mission for another blog, but when they started with the words, "You are the source of life...."my heart swelled and the spirit moved so strongly. "I need you Jesus to come to my rescue. Where else can I go? There's no other name by which I am saved. Capture me with grace. I will follow you. This world has nothing for me, I will follow you." I stood and cried as I tried to sing the words....for I feel that I am at that place of truly saying to the Lord that this world has nothing for me and all I want to do is follow Him. Looking back, I think everyone was on their feet, but probably not. Acutally, only the few people around me were on their feet, but I didn't care. I was worshiping the one true Lord.


I worshipped this week like no other time in my life. Maybe it is because I feel as if I am coming out of the desert. Maybe it is because God has slowly stripped away so many distractions. Maybe it is because of how much I have seen God do over the past year. I am sure it is a combination of all. One thing is sure, most of the men and women in that room were doing the same thing. The worship was contagious.


My plane landed back in Milwaukee minutes before a huge thunder storm rumbled through. Joe called to remind me to be careful driving home. And sure enough, before I knew it rain was coming down in torrents and I could see the lightning while the thunder rattled my car. But as I looked to the sky, there was an amazing ray of light. A sun beam. There was a tiny break in the clouds up ahead, the direction I was heading, and there one single beam of light was shining. My worship continued as I felt completely overcome by the all-cosuming love of Jesus. The beam of light was this symbol, that even in the darkest, stormiest times, Jesus shares that ray of light which shows the way. I cried thinking of how much God loves me, humbled that the God of the universe who asks me to give everything to Him, loves me with a pure, amazing love.


And when I saw my family, my first words to all of them was, "Do you know how much Jesus loves you?"