Monthly Archives: November 2010

Carried Alone

I watch her–across the crowd–this tall awkward beauty. She’s the girl a visitor might not remember–no big personality or shining grades or showy talent. She is quiet, and I’ve watched her stand, so often,

alone.

And, tonight, she has risked. This dark-skinned girl, finding refuge at Breanna’s House, wants to learn the dance with the others. And, the team of Americans shows steps, and she tries to keep up. But, her arms seem too long and her feet seem two steps behind.

And, then, another girl whispers. Perhaps a criticism, maybe a bully-instruction to do better. Girls are girls, everywhere, after all.

And, this awkward beauty is sunk low.

Tears form. Emotion made raw. And, we catch eyes, and I’ve seen it. And, she knows I have.

But, the music has started now, and she doesn’t have the luxury of wallowing. And so, she struggles through mistimed steps and timid turns. She grits teeth and blinks back weakness and pulls armor around.

And then, the lesson finishes.

And, she files out with the rest–the chatter of the crowd filling the humid night air.

And,  the comment, the insecurity, the struggle,

is borne alone,

by awkwardly beautiful shoulders.

And, my car drives away, but my heart doesn”t. My thoughts can”t either, because I know I”ve peeked into a daily, stretching-into-years reality for this young teenager. And, I wonder how her life, her confidence, her view of God would be different if she got to taste the evening like my own daughter, who also danced that night, and who rode in the backseat,

home,

chatting all the way,

to a mother who listened,

and loved.

I wonder.

And, I think that perhaps, if she had, she wouldn”t have been so scared to dance in the first place.

From hands that help run the orphanage to hands that take the orphan home, let me say thank you. Your rescue of a child from the crowd, is such an important way to love. There is no substitute for a family.

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Laura Parker and Family

Laura, her husband, and their three small children currently live in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where they direct a Children”s Home for orphaned, homeless, or impoverished girls. Laura is able to write honestly about what it means to love orphans from the other side of the adoption coin. She has written articles for Relevant Magazine, {In}Courage, and several other online sites, and chronicles their journey in the jungle at Laura Parker {Life Overseas}. The Children”s Home they direct is Breanna”s House of Joy. Her Twitter is @Lauraparkersays.

With Thankfulness: Full Hands

It’s no secret we have a large family. Through birth and adoption, God has blessed us rather abundantly. And, it’s no secret that with a large family comes noise and chaos and a lot of demands and a general overall crazyness, lots of laughter, supporters at every turn, a hug at every corner, and never having to go through any of it alone.

With Thankfulness: The Treasure of Thrown Away Food

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Corinthians 15:57 (NIV)

If there was ever a secret for unleashing God’s powerful peace in a situation, it’s developing a heart of true thanksgiving. My son, Jackson, knows this. I came to understand how powerfully he knows this when editing a paper he wrote recently. Jackson hasn’t always lived in the safety and security of our home. For the first 13 years of his life, he lived in a forgotten orphanage in the third world country of Liberia, Africa.

Jackson’s paper was about the corruption and greed that caused the civil war in his native land. He did a great job recounting the facts of the story. But the difference between Jackson and most other kids explaining a historical event, is before we adopted him – he lived in the midst of the horrific conditions of this war.

During one part of the paper, he described what it felt like to be naked digging through the trash looking for the treasure of thrown away food.

The treasure of thrown away food.

I can hardly type those words without crying. This is my son.

And yet, despite the horrific conditions of his childhood there was an unexplainable thread of peace woven through his recollection of the story. A powerful peace centered in the awareness of God’s presence.

The truly thankful person is a truly peaceful person. They have made a habit no matter what to notice, pause and choose.

Noticing something for which to be thankful no matter what circumstance they’re in.

Pausing to acknowledge this something as a reminder of God’s presence.

Choosing to focus on God’s presence until His powerful peace is unleashed.

I doubt any of us will find our treasure in thrown away food today. But will we be a noticer, a pauser, a chooser – a person of thanksgiving no matter what circumstance we’re facing?

I find this truth about the power of thanksgiving over and over in Scripture. What was the prayer Daniel prayed right before being thrown in the lion’s den and witnessing God miraculously shutting the lion’s mouths? Thanksgiving.

After three days in the belly of a fish, what was the cry of Jonah’s heart right before he was finally delivered onto dry land? Thanksgiving.

How are we instructed to pray in Philippians 4:6 when we feel anxious? With thanksgiving.

And what is the outcome of each of these situations where thanksgiving is proclaimed? Peace. Powerful, unexplainable, uncontainable peace.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” (Philippians 4:7, NIV).

One of Webster’s official definitions of thanksgiving is: “a public acknowledgment or celebration of divine goodness.”

I wonder how we might celebrate God’s divine goodness today?

I wonder what might happen if we decide in the midst of our circumstances today to notice, pause, and choose something for which we can truly be thankful….

Dear Lord, will You help me to notice things for which I can be thankful in each circumstance I face today? Will You help me remember to pause and acknowledge this as evidence of Your presence? And will You help me to remember to choose to focus on Your presence until Your powerful peace rushes into my heart and helps me see everything more clearly? Thank You for the reality that being thankful truly changes everything. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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TerKeurst, L. (2010, June 24). The Treasure of Thrown Away Food [Encouragement for Today from Proverbs 31 Ministries Electronic mailing list message]. Available in full from www.proverbs31.org

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Lysa Terkeurst

Lysa TerKeurst is an author and speaker who helps everyday women live an adventure of faith through following Jesus Christ. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa has led thousands to make their walk with God an invigorating journey. Lysa

With Thankfulness: How Can I Ever Thank You?

It was a bitter cold Sunday in December where my heart wore the weather. At the time, we were attending a church busting at the seams with prolific twenty-somethings. Most all the women my age (or younger) were either pregnant, nursing, or carrying their almost-walking 1-year-old in an ergo. They came on Sundays to be reminded of a faithful God, but I entered those doors each week with the stinging reminder that my request of that faithful God hadn

With Thankfulness: A Thanksgiving Perspective

On this Thanksgiving,

I am surrounded by a feast beyond compare;
143 million children are wondering if there will be enough to eat.

I am surrounded by friends and family;
143 million children are taken care of by government-paid workers or, worse yet, no one.

I am surrounded by advertisements, beckoning me to purchase the latest hot merchandise;
143 million children are digging through trash to find a thrown-out pair of shoes to wear.

I am surrounded by grown men fighting over a brown ball and trying to move it 100yrds;
143 million chidren are fighting to survive another day on the streets.

I am surrounded by gridlock on the highways and in the airports;
143 million children are walking to the nearest water pond to get water for the day.

I have for my enjoyment bottled water, soda, ice tea, coffee, and alcoholic beverages;
143 million children drink dirty water filled with parasites, diseases, and germs.

I am blessed by God;
143 million children are loved by God.

I am surrounded by 224 million “Christians” in the US;
143 million children are “the least of these.”

I am a sheep.
What are you?

All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. … The King will reply,

With Thankfulness: Happy to Be A Crazy

I like to think that I’m a pretty “Happy-Go-Lucky” kind of guy.
I mean, I like to think of myself as a “cup-1/2-full” kind of guy (unless you are drinking from it, then it is 1/2 empty).
See the good in everyone.
Look on the bright side of things.
Find the silver lining in the cloud.
You know, all that kind of good stuff.

Don’t get me wrong, I have my bad days like everyone. . . . Okay, well, maybe not EVERYONE. I have one friend Rhonda who I don’t think EVER has a bad day. Drives me NUTS! I just wanna scream. . . . It’s like, “C’mon! Can’t you just have 1 bad day?” *siiigh* Oh, and my good friend Bobby – always happy! Always. Crazy. And, everything works out for him too! He is one of those guys that if his car broke down on him on the way to church, a new Lexus would fall from the heavens with the keys in the ignition and Megan Fox in the passenger seat! Goodness, that guy bugs me too! You know what? They ALL drive me nuts! Happy people! BAH!!!

Where was I? Oh right . . . I’m happy and thankful.

Sometimes, it can be really hard to be thankfu.l . . . Honestly, I think sometimes we have to be CRAZY to be thankful.

Me: *looking at the bank account* Oh snap.
*poof!*
Bad Me: You know, this whole “adoption” thing is kinda expensive. Like . . . really freakishly expensive.
Me: Yeah, I know.
Bad Me: Dosn’t that tick you OFF?
Me: Yeah, kinda.
Bad Me: Kinda?! There are 147 MILLION orphans in the world – all you want to do is help 1, and someone wants to charge you thousands of dollars!
Me: Hey, you know what? That is crazy!
Bad Me: That’s right! It’s CRAZY!
Me: They shouldn’t do that! Thats CRAZY! Stupid regulations!
*poof!*
Good Me: Maybe you should be thankful instead of getting all upset.
Me: What? Be thankful for what?! That this is going to cost us a LOT of money, so I have to work TONNES(1) of overtime to pay for it all?!
Good Me: You could be thankful that you HAVE a job where you can work the over time to help pay for the adoption. Or, you could just be thankful that you have a job at all.
Me: Okay, fine. I’m thankful that I have a job. But, I’m still upset that this is SO HARD to adopt when these children need homes.
Good Me: Why don’t you be thankful that you are adopting a beautiful child into your family and not focus on the paper work.
Me: Okay . . . fine. So, I’m thankful that I’ve got a job. I’m thankful that I am able to adopt a child. But, but . . . do you remember what the last adoption was like! I mean, you weren’t the one getting yelled at in Mandarin everyday!
Good Me: Why don’t you just be thankful that your beautiful daughter will even talk to you.
Me: Grrrrr . . . fine. I’ll be thankful for the job, for being able to pay for the adoption, for adding to the family, even for my daughter yelling at me.
Good Me: See! Don’t you feel better now.
Me: You know what . . . no. This is still hard! And, I haven’t even gotten into the all the other krump(2) we’ve gotta work though for our “Special Needs” now.
Good Me: I know. Hey, you should ask God how hard adoption was for Him. But, there are some other things you can be thankful for.
Me: Oh yeah, like what?
Good Me: Well, women with poor taste in men. Without that, you would still be a bachelor!
Me: You know, for a “good conscience,” sometimes you can be really mean.
Good Me: And, you should be . . .
Me: Thankful for that too?
Good Me: My work here is done.
*poof!*

There are always two choices when life throws something unpleasant at you.
You can get mad, rage against the injustice* in life and hold onto bitterness, anger, resentment, etc.
Or, you can be one of the crazies. And, goodness knows, there is enough krump in the adoption process to make anyone jaded (even the crazies like Bobby and Rhonda).

As for me, I’m happy to be a crazy. I want to focus on what God has given me and simply walk steadfastly though the trials of life, holding onto love, joy, peace, goodness, faith . . . and, yes, . . . even holding onto crazy, er, thankfullness.

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(1) Totally not a made-up word, simply the proper spelling of TON – welcome to Canada, eh!

(2) Totally a made-up word, based loosely off CRUMP (which means “to explode heavily”), except rooted in a metaphorical term for issues which seem to “explode heavily” into your life, if you want them or not.

* There is definitely a time to rage against the injustices of this world. But, it probably is going to be a time that you won’t like and for something which you don’t want to do.

________________________________________

Adrian Berzenji

Adrian and Roberta have been married for over 13 years. They

With Thankfulness: Give Thanks

Many families burdened by the command of Jesus to care for orphans often will ask the Lord, “What is your will for us?” Should we sponsor an orphan? Should we go to Haiti and volunteer in an orphanage over spring break? Should we foster here in the states? Should we adopt from overseas?

For those who feel it’s God