Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Sovereignty and Starfish

This is a poem that many of you probably recognize if you have been around adoption materials for very long. I really love it. I don't actually know who wrote it and the web site I got it from didn't list an author.

"Once upon a time there was a wise man
who used to go to the ocean
to do his writing.
He had a habit of walking
on the beach
before he began his work.
One day he was walking along
the shore.

As he looked down the beach,
he saw a human
figure moving like a dancer.
He smiled to himself to think
of someone who would
dance to the day.
So he began to walk faster
to catch up.

As he got closer, he saw
that it was a young man
and the young man wasn't dancing,
but instead he was reaching
down to the shore,
picking up something
and very gently throwing it
into the ocean.

As he got closer he called out,
"Good morning! What are you doing?"
The young man paused,
looked up and replied,
"Throwing starfish in the ocean."
"I guess I should have asked,
why are you throwing starfish in the ocean?"
"The sun is up and the tide is going out.
And if I don't throw them in they'll die."

"But, young man, don't you realize that
there are miles and miles of beach
and starfish all along it.
You can't possibly make a difference!"
The young man listened politely.
Then bent down, picked up another starfish
and threw it into the sea,
past the breaking waves and said-
"It made a difference for that one."

The need to care for orphans and widows in this world can feel so overwhelming. I was reminded of this when I was looking at the Heart Gallery Alabama web site today which has photos and videos of adoptable children posted. When there are an estimated 160,000,000 orphans in the world, not to mention widows raising their children alone, families in need across the world and across our streets, children who need foster homes in our city, how do we decide where we fit in? How do we know we made the right choice or ended up with the right child? How do we keep from feeling that by saying "yes" to one aspect of ministry, we are saying "no" to millions of other children?

Only one word will calm the soul troubled by these questions--God. God is sovereign over the grand plan as well as the minutia of our lives. God knows us and gifts us each especially for the tasks he has chosen for us. God knows and chooses each "starfish" that gets rescued. God knew our names and the names of our children before the world began.

Orphan advocation is not about a "good/better/best" mentality within the church. It's not better to adopt than do mission work. It's not better to adopt than focus on the homeless. It's not better to adopt than to have your own biological children. It's not better to adopt children in Montgomery than Ethiopia. It's not better to adopt a white child over a black child. It's not better to adopt a mentally handicapped child over a healthy one. It's easy for us who truly desire to serve God with reckless abandon and hold nothing back to feel guilty if we don't adopt the adsolutely most impoverished unwanted child on the planet. We want so badly to replicate our own adoption into God's family. And, absolutely we should see ourselves as the most spiritually impoverished and unwanted orphans around. That's a great place to start, by the way. I would suggest that if you have not already done so, that you would pray for God to free you from any preconceived notion that you are "too good" to care for any and all categories of people in need. You must be willing to serve him in whatever he sends your way and in parenting any children he sends your way. However, you must trust that God has a specific plan and design for your family. The beauty in this is that every family is going to be unique. So the best way to view this is for the church to develop an "all of the above" mentality. We should (as a church) be caring for orphans from everywhere, AND doing foster care, AND reaching out to the homeless, AND doing mission work at home and abroad, AND preaching and teaching God's Word, AND edifying the saints. However, one person cannot be everywhere at once and has limited resources. That's why were are many members in one body...the church. Each member is gifted to do certain ministries. So what does God have for your family? We feel stronly that He has led us to put a strong emphasis on orphan care. However, He does not intend for my family to adopt 160,000,000 children. So...how do we decide where we fit? The same way we should be making other decisions.

1. Pray
2. Align your perspectives and desires with the word of God.
3. Obey
4. Listen to the Holy Spirit who is your guide and the common sense that God has given you.

5. Allow your love and appreciation for your Savior to motivate you--not guilt.

It really doesn't have to be all that complicated, although our emotions will do that part for us. If we read the Word of God then we know what His will is. Once we know that, we should be called to act on it at some level. In the case of orphan and widow ministry, it may be one or a combination of these things

  • Adoption-domestic or foreign
  • Foster Care
  • Financial contribution
  • Sponsoring a child who is not adoptable
  • Volunteering your skills as a painter, tutor, construction worker, babysitter, house cleaner, cook, seamstress, etc. for a local ministry or adoptive family
  • Volunteer at a local ministry or soup kitchen
  • Praying

    Is this inconvenient sometimes? Absolutely. Does it require time, energy, sacrifice? Yes. However, I am convinced that He does not call us to be His children in order that we may shield our lives from a display of His glory no matter how inconvenient it may be. He does not save us to make us lazy. He saves us to empower us to obedience. 2 John 1:16 says "And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments"

    Matthew 20:28 also says that he who wants to be great must be the slave of all "even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

    It's so nice to just sit around and be served, isn't it? Restaurants do it, TVs do it, fast food windows do it. All kinds of things around us are screaming to us that life is all about us and how much we can enjoy it before we die. While I certainly love and enjoy this life, I realize that I only get to serve Christ in this capacity once. I want to look back on my life and be able to say that I made a difference. Not that I was famous for it or that I was recognized at all for it, but that I furthered His kingdom through obedience. I want to make a difference to some starfish out there. I want to further the Gospel and I want to pattern my love for my family after the same selfless servant love that Christ has shown me.

    Who's with me?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sometimes pregnancy looks like this...

Pregnant with Josie in 2009

And then sometimes it looks more like this:

"Pregnant" with Keira in 2010/11

The dossier picture above does not even do justice to how thick those stacks of papers are and it represents about 6months of hard work! Above are the Original Dossier and 3 sets of copies. We mailed them all on February 4th!

Whether physically pregnant or "paper pregnant", I have found that in both cases you get to a long period of waiting. When I was pregnant with Josie there came a time when her room was all decorated and I could not find anything more to do to keep my mind off of the waiting. It really almost drove me crazy never knowing when "true labor" was really going to start or my water was going to break! At least with a physical pregnancy there is a somewhat more predictable time frame, but both times I have been graciously reminded through God's Word that He is the author and finisher of all things and that the timing WILL be right because it will follow His schedule. Now we are at the point where we are just waiting for that phone call from our agency telling us that we have a referral and we will finally see a picture of our dear child's face. But I am determined that now is not the time to be anxious or impatient. Now is the time when we rest, seek God's face, date each other, savor giving undivided attention to Josie, and prepare our home and hearts for the new baby to come! I have a feeling that the upcoming adjustment period could really be a fun ride:)

Here is a picture from Josie's 1st birthday where she got her "Keira" doll. I LOVE the hair on this little thing! Of course, Josie likes her about as much as she likes any of her toys...all of about 2 seconds! Speaking of hair, Kristi Johnson has done a wonderful post on African American haircare. She taught a little seminar at the Created for Care conference and it was awesome! I felt like I learned so much and I am no longer so afraid to tackle all those curls!
Hope you all had a wonderfully romantic Valentine's Day. It was also my birthday (so I'm calling it "birthentines" from now on. Thanks, Justin.) I had a great day! My amazing hubby brought me roses, showered me with presents, and made me steak! Yum! It really doesn't get much better than this! I'm thankful every single day for my sweet husband and little girl(s). I really am just an undeserving sinner. It's overpowering to think that God saved me anyway AND pours these blessings on me besides! God is really awesome! "That's all I have to say about that."

Monday, February 7, 2011

Where is your nest?

This past weekend was so uplifting and exciting for me! I got to chat with some amazing women on the drive to and from the Created for Care Retreat, and I got to spend the weekend with 250 moms (almost all of whom I did not know) whom I had something in common with...adoption! Now, I already share this connection with every believer! We all have a history of adoption in one sense. We were orphaned and abandoned to this world and God plucked us out to be called "His Children". I also have the joy of sharing in adoptive parenthood with many families in my church and community. This retreat was really amazing though because I got to meet moms from all over the country who have/are/are thinking of adopting. One of the neat things is that besides discussing adoption, we were able to discuss orphan care in general and we heard from some amazing ministries like Wiphan, 60 Feet, Into the Streets, and more!

I felt so much more educated after the great sessions and interaction with so many moms who have adopted before. One of the great reminders that I came home with was focusing on being a mom who raises her children close to God. Psalm 84:3 says, "Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORD of hosts, my King and my God." I thought this was a good reminder that in everything we say and do we are an example to our children--our biological ones as well as our adopted ones. Let's set the example of having a "nest" that is near His altar.

We mailed our dossier on Friday right before I left for the retreat. It should be reaching AWAA any day now. Now begins the long period of silence and waiting. Pray for our hearts to be patient as we wait to bring Keira home.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Light at the end of the tunnel!

Well, it's been a really hectic week and guess what? It's only Tuesday!!! I know I can't be the only one who has ever felt that way. Sorry I don't have any cool pictures to post. I've been compliling a dossier, trying to get it certified and authenticated, running all over town looking for the right kind of ink for my printer so that I can print the fundraising letters out. Oh yeah that's when I'm not replying to about 7,000 e-mails!!! Ok maybe I exaggerated a bit.

Despite the crazyness at my house you have NO idea how awesome it feels to be getting this stuff done. Lord willing, I can mail our dossier before I leave for the created for care conference on Friday! I'm so excited! Not only is the conference going to be awesome, but I get to ride in the car with some really amazing women. Three hours of uninterrupted conversation with super-mom Joy Portis is definately going to be worth the retreat fee! I'll definately be posting pictures of all that fun-ness!

We got our pre-immigration approval back yesterday which means...the dossier is complete! Yay!

Ok well, I guess that's all for now. When my brain slows down a bit maybe I can write a more coherant post. You all have a great week!