Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Dance of Life: the Song of Sonship

I used to teach middle school right after Stephen and I got married. One of our most memorable times from that period in our lives was chaperoning the middle school dances. Oh my goodness! See if this doesn’t sound familiar to you– the boys all lined up on one side of the gym, the girls on the other. The music is playing, but only a few are actually dancing. The rest are hesitant, scared, painfully self-aware, or ashamed, embarrassed, unsure…..

They want to dance– desperately. But their fear is so real, so big. They doubt they belong in the crowd cool enough to get out on the dance floor. They fear they don’t have what it takes, that they will fail in some way- so it is easier just to hang back and watch, acting as if in reality they don’t actually want to dance.

Stephen and I laugh when we remember the inevitable posse of girls moving in a chattering, giggling unit over to a friend, ready to drag him or her out on the floor. The friend would resist, of course, but no doubt was thrilled that the issue was being forced, relieved to have found a way to overcome the barrier.

A dance is an intimate thing. It speaks of romance and partnership, and fun. There is a dance going on and sometimes I see the adopted children I know struggle like those middle school students. The best song is playing– the one everyone loves. It is the SONG OF ALL SONGS! It is the music of adoption, of acceptance, of unconditional love. There is no better song to dance to! And the dance is happening right before their eyes, this DANCE OF LIFE.

and yet, they hesitate
denying even the desire to dance
covering their fear of the intimacy of it all with denials
declaring “that’s just not who I am”
the voice of rejection whispering (or yelling) in their ear
you don’t belong in that dance
rejected, dejected
not a son, not a daughter

and you and I KEEP DANCING
for we can do nothing else with such a song
we have been captivated by the tune– it is beautiful and so very good
we swing by our child
extending our invitation to join in with abandon
and some come with joy
and some hesitate
but all desire to join in, secretly loving it when we grab hold and pull them into the longed-for movement of life
because this is what they are born to do, to dance to this
SONG OF SONSHIP

___________________________

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband Stephen for 27 years. They have seven children, ages 18-24. Several years after giving birth to three girls God called their family to the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Beth’s heart has been deeply and forever changed as she has watched the love of Father God poured out on her whole family through adoption. She leads Hope at Home, a ministry dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord, go to Hope at Home.

Where Are My Green Pastures? {Together Called 2014}

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.” 
Psalm 23:1-2

Green pastures.

We all want them, right?  Psalm 23 conjures up images of lush, green rolling hills, or perhaps an enormous meadow of knee-high green vegetation.

Seriously green.  Kentucky green.

Lush and more-than-enough.

What a gracious God we serve that he does indeed bless us at times in such huge ways that we feel this sense of being in those green, green fields, enjoying the enormity of his grace towards us!  Provision so full and complete.  More than what we expect.  But what if your adoption or parenting journey has you wondering…

Where are my green pastures?

You’ve struggled long enough.  The red tape continues to entangle you.  The wait doesn’t get any easier, in fact, it lengthens.

Your child is home, but so far as you can see there are no green pastures.  The night terrors take their toll on everyone’s sleep.  Your beloved child still feels like a stranger to you.  The stress of loving a hurting child is taking a toll on your marriage.

You ask, Where are my green pastures?

In my two-week hiking tour of Israel back in 2004, we trekked across the general area where David led his sheep, to see the setting of perhaps the most well-known passage of the Bible: Psalm 23.

And what we saw gave a whole new meaning to the concept of green pastures.  Take a look:

Aside from a few shrubs, you can see that these “pastures” are anything but green by our standards.  And yet, if you look closely, you can see a present-day shepherd still leading a flock of sheep over these very hills.

So what do the sheep eat? you may ask.  They are eating just one mouthful of young, green vegetation at at time, following the shepherd to the next mouthful. (See below.)

The sheep follow the shepherd’s leading, trusting that he will lead them to what they need.  They can’t just stand in one spot and eat their fill; they need to continue to follow their shepherd, staying near enough to hear his voice, to be lead to the next mouthful.
When the lush green pastures of God’s provision seem non-existent, you are not being forgotten or passed over or left alone.  Your Shepherd is right there, leading you to mouthfuls of His grace. Just the mouthful of grace you need to remind Him of His care for you.
As my husband and I went through some pretty deep and dark valleys in our adoption journey, we found God’s tender care for us revealed in these mouthfuls of green pastures; He continued to provide us with His grace for the day.  
The sermon that seemed as if it was written just for us.
The phone call from a friend.
The gift of a warm cup of coffee and a listening ear.
A note with an encouraging verse.
Mouthfuls of His grace provide through a community of believers who acted on His promptings.  Just enough to sustain us.  Just enough to encourage us to keep on the path, to remind us He sees us.
As you walk through your current valley, can you look back and see where God gave you a mouthful of green pasture?  Can you see how He has been providing grace for the day to remind you He is with you?  
This past weekend, at Together Called 2014, couples were encouraged to work together to make a list of where they have seen God’s provision of mouthfuls of green pasture.  They were encouraged to record how each had been a source of grace for the day to the other.  Husbands and wives shared with each other what a “mouthful of encouragement” would look like to them, so their spouse could look for opportunities to be used by God to provide grace for the day.  We are God’s hands and feet and He uses us to minister to each other, especially in times of struggle.
Have you felt defeated lately?  Left alone or abandoned by God?  Does your adoption journey feel hopeless and does it seem that He simply isn’t working in your journey right now?  Are you struggling for the strength to patiently work towards attachment just one more day?  Ask God to open your eyes to the mouthfuls of grace He is providing.
Can you think of some people God has placed around you who are in need of some grace for the day?  Will you listen for those God-promptings to pick up the phone or drop them a note of encouragement?  You can be the mouthful they need to make it another day.
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.” 
Psalm 23:1-2
**NOTE: My Israel trip was led by Ray VanderLaan of Follow the Rabbi, and this blog post is based on one of the faith lessons he taught on our 2004 trip.**

____________________________

Stephanie Smit18 years in the classroom as a teacher was easy compared to parenting three little ones at home full-time. Through their three daughters, God has revealed Himself most clearly to Stephanie and her husband Matthew. He not only worked a miracle in giving them their biological daughter, He continued to show Himself in mighty ways throughout adoption journeys in China and Bhutan that were anything but normal. Nowadays she enjoys encouraging and connecting with other adoptive families through her work on “We Are Grafted In”.  You can read more about their family on their personal blog We Are Family.

Together Called to rest

together called 2014 fireI’ve realized something lately. I’ve realized it over the last few months as we’ve prepared for this day. I’ve seen it; I’ve experienced it. There’s a lot of weary going around. It is not the kind of weary that means tired. Being tired is something a good night’s sleep and a tall cup of coffee can fix. It’s deeper than that. It’s w e a r y, an exhaustion that fills what can seem like a never ending season of winter.

We added something new to Together Called this year. Some couples come this weekend to be fed and simply be able to reconnect with each other. That’s great. Other couples come to Together Called to be fed, maybe reconnect with each other, but also connect with other couples who “get it.” This year, we wanted to be intentional about helping them do that. The weekend goes by fast, so we have tried to do some work ahead of time so that they can skip some of the higher level conversation and get to the conversation that we all really are looking for anyway. We asked couples to fill out an online survey of sorts, noting areas they could use someone’s connection and areas where they may be able to pour into others.

As the responses came in, the weariness became visibly apparent in the form of an Excel spreadsheet on the screen in front of us. Nearly 1/4 of the couples coming this weekend shared that they fell into the category of coming up for air and asked for someone to connect with them to encourage them.

Weary.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. -Matthew 11:28

That’s what we want these couples to get this weekend. We’ve got great stuff planned, gifted speakers, good food, warm fires. But, we don’t want Together Called to be their tall cup of coffee. We want to point them to the One who called them in the first place and calls them still when they’re in the hard places and when things seem to be working out okay.

We are coming weary and burdened. We pray that we will leave having experienced rest and understanding that life with Jesus can be rest even in the midst—perhaps more so in the midst—of brokenness and the tender pain of the grafting process, that He desires to us to experience rest in Him because He is our Father and simply loves us because we are His.

Come, friends. Come, and let’s share the weariness and find rest together.

_________________________________

Wanna learn more about Together Called 2015? Join our mailing list for more information.

_________________________________

Kelly-NHBO1-150x150

Kelly Raudenbush

Kelly has a passion for supporting adoptive families, specifically to encourage parents to be intentional and understand their own hearts more clearly as they seek to care for their hearts of their children. Kelly has a Master’s degree in counseling and has been working with adoptive families since she and her husband Mark founded the nonprofit The Sparrow Fund (www.sparrow-fund.org). Married to Mark since 1998, they have 3 biological children and 1 daughter who was adopted as a toddler from China in 2010. You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed by the experience of adoption, and what life for them looks like on Kelly’s personal blog, My Overthinking.

God’s Dreams for Us

Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that one day I would adopt an eight year old boy China. In fact, if you had told me three years ago that I would now have a nine year old son, I probably would have laughed. Isn’t it beautiful how God works, changing and molding us into the vessel He intends us to be when we open our hearts to him.

When God first revealed to us His plan, I was honestly absolutely terrified at the thought initially, but God whispered in my heart, “Trust Me, dear one” and I settled under the secure wings of my Almighty Father and let Him lead. Adopting an older child is not an easy path, but God didn’t promise that the road would be easy, did He? But has it been rewarding and amazing? Absolutely! 

For Anthony’s one year anniversary as our son, we purchased a Bible with his name imprinted on it. I had been waiting for the right time to start showing him how God speaks to us through the Bible and provides us with everything we need to follow Him. I didn’t want to rush things but Holy Spirit has been working in his heart one from the very day he entered our lives. 

As we were setting down for our evening routine of a devotional reading, he said, “My heart believes in God, but my sometimes my brain doesn’t understand.” I could feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit to seize this very moment! 

I said, “Yes, our brains try to understand, but we will never understand everything about God because He is God and our brain is too small in comparison to Him. Let’s look at verse in Isaiah that talks about this very thing. We can look it up in your new bible!”

So I picked up his new Bible and turned to Is. 55:8-9:

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your
ways my ways,’
declares the Lord.
‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways
higher than your ways
and my thoughts
than your thoughts.'” (NIV)
 
As Anthony read the verse aloud to me, his eyes grew big and he looked at me and exclaimed rather loudly,
 
“That is exactly what I was thinking! The Bible is amazing!! I am so happy! I love God with all my heart! My heart is different now.”
 
Heart pounding . . . tears of joy welling up . . . silent praise to God. This boy, one year ago, had not even heard the name of God!
 
“Anthony, I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that you understand how God speaks to us from His word. He also tells us that we are new creations because of Christ and have a new heart.”
 
“Are there verses that tell us that?”
 
“Oh, yes! Let me show you!”
 
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Cor. 5:17, NIV)
 
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ez. 36:26, NIV)

God is working in the heart of my boy who only just heard about God one year ago. Just think, if we hadn’t listened to God’s call, we would have missed out on the amazing work God is doing in his life.  
 ______________________________________
 
After struggling with infertility for 5 years, God led Suzanne and her husband, Adam, to His Plan A for their lives—adoption! Their daughter, Grace Lihua, came into their lives May 2011 on Mother’s Day from Fuzhou City, Fujian Province, China. And, their son, Anthony Jianyou, joined their family in January 2013 from Shanghai. After a career in politics, Suzanne now works as a part time Pilates instructor while home schooling their children, writing and working as a part of the Sparrow Fund Blog leadership team. You can follow their adoption journey and life on her blog, Surpassing
Greatness
.
 

Call to the Home Team

photo courtesy of KC Photography

There are a lot of countdowns going on here—our biggest annual event Together Called is only days away, and our trip to China to serve at an orphanage pretty much immediately follows.

For months, the team has been raising funds, filling out paperwork, considering schedules and preparing logistically. We’ve been coming together on conference calls so we can work better together as a team, creating t-shirts so we look like a team, and going through material to grow us as we are a part of a bigger team. Some of us have already started packing bags, making sure we squeeze everything in and stay under 40 lbs. which can be a wee bit of a challenge for overthinkers like me. Regardless of who much overthinking we’re doing about those bags, we’re nearly on our way. On February 27th, we’ll be able to put everyone’s faces with the voices we’ve come to recognize from those conferences calls and get on a China-bound flight together.

Though our team numbers only 13 as we serve at an orphanage in Shaanxi, we know our team is exponentially bigger than that. Each one of the home teams of those 13 members from across the country makes this Visit and Serve team huge! What a comfort it is to know that while we may be the hands there doing the work through His grace, the rest of the body is supporting us and enabling us to be there. It’s so not just the 13 of us.

It’s not too late to be a part of the team. You may not be on that plane with us as we nervously chatter and try to cat nap as we’re able, but we want you there. And, you can be. We’re rallying our home teams to lift us up throughout our travel day February 27th-28th in very specific ways. Can you commit 30 minutes on that day to sit with us and advocate for us from your living room as you sip on a cup of coffee? Can you maybe do a harder thing and set your alarm to wake up in the middle of the night to do the same as we are still flying across the world?

Feel that nudge to join us? Email me. I’ll reply with some info for you and maybe my own form of nervous email chatter. Heading back to my daughter’s home city, meeting her ayis, holding the babies who are there waiting can produce some nervous chatter in me.

_________________________________

Kelly-NHBO1-150x150

Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (editing and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blogMy Overthinking.

Taking Her From the Streets

[Continuing from Wednesday’s post …]

Moments of insecurity reveal my street-raised daughter to have a bark louder than her bite. As we learn Him, He teaches us about her and it’s here that we’re finding her gentleness.

Months ago, we started praying into her the opposite of what we were perceiving from her behavior. We weren’t looking to directly oppose what we saw, but as we asked Him for understanding into her heart, we realized that much of the whirlwind around her was borne from inertia. She had a dormant beauty that never had reason to surface.

And I’ve had too many years taking gulps of worst-case scenario expectations, lived-out. This time, I would try His perspective, first. We prayed it, said it, spoke it over her, and to her. And to ourselves. He was bringing forth beauty, refinement, gentleness. All the things one might say she wasn’t is what we believed He was saying she is.

And His Word speaks a better way.

One particular morning, Eden crawled into my lap and confessed yet another grievance. Hope was “hurting her heart.” It was not a surprise; I’d witnessed some of what she was referencing.

We talked it out. God was clearly using this to develop compassion in Eden’s heart for the broken. As we wrapped up our conversation I said, “Let’s pray and ask God how He sees Hope. Let’s ask Him to give us His eyes for her.”

We prayed, waited, listened.

Eden broke the silence: “Elegant. The word ‘elegant’ came to me, Mommy.” Though tucked away in a book we’d read months ago, it’s not a part of our everyday vocabulary. He spoke through the mouth of a six year-old babe to confirm the course we’d charted in prayer. He was making Hope new and even telling her siblings about it. Beauty initiated by Him, before our naked eyes could see it.

And He is doing it, friends. Under our roof is a greenhouse. It’s messy at times, this workroom of ours, but I can’t ignore the growth. Dirt giving birth to life. New shoots are everywhere and before long it’ll be spring.

I’ve heard from many of you whose stories take on a different shape, but the plight is the same. We share the scars of motherhood, both  for children who have been adopted, and those home-grown. You’ve cultivated the dirt and are waiting for spring. You have a Hope in your home and your heart sits, tentative about how to respond. As you wait on her — that “her” for you — might I humbly share some of His counsel to me:

Talk about her beauty, even behind closed-doors. Make it a part of your vernacular. “I can’t say that,” Nate replied to my bleak assessment of the situation, one day. He saw the end, where I was taking stock of the beginning. Nate has been the gatekeeper of our language. I need this.

What we declare — out of fear — in private becomes much easier to believe in her presence. To be her advocate, even closed-door conversations need to come back to the beauty He is bringing forth. To be her advocate, our understanding of her future must be rooted in the promises of His Word. There is no true advocacy apart from Him.

And the power of life and death lies in the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21)

Pray up and in. Adoration was the tool He gave me, early, for this task. To tear down the walls of lies around her heart and life (maybe even spoken over her before her birth) you must first erect Truth in your own life. Battling this blind, is not knowing who He is over your life and your family.

The only perspective that will stand, is His perspective.

Pray His Word back to Him, say His Word back to Him, paste it over your life. And as it takes root in your heart, which it will — because it’s alive — you’ll find it easier to pray it into her.

His Word will be her reality if you just open the door. Morning, noon, and night. It’s waiting. He’s ready-available to re-write your understanding.

Ask Him how He sees her. All day long you will be tempted to be the thermometer on her life. Her behavior has calcified how she sees herself and the enemy is hot on your trail to make you believe the same. In your pain, do not indulge your fear. Much of what you “feel” may actually be in direct opposition to what His Word says is true.

There is no better time than now to sit cross-legged in front of your fireplace, with moleskin journal in hand and a perspective ready to be molded, and ask Him the question that will unlock her heart: Father, how do you see her? Be prepared to take note … with your life.

Tell her who she is and set up memorials around when she walks it out. Behind ten of Hope’s missteps is one heart-move towards beauty. We celebrate the one. When it comes, we acknowledge it, that night we recall it, the next morning we lift it up as the first step in a pattern that will come. “Hope, remember how you cleared Caleb’s plate for him yesterday? That was awesome! Are you ready to do that again today? Let’s ask Jesus to show you more opportunities to love your siblings well today.”

It’s likely she lives covered under a blanket of shame — she’s been telling herself or hearing others remind her what a problem she is. You get to be Jesus’ eyes and search below the dirt for early signs of growth.

Don’t be afraid to respond to and discipline for the ten. ”He disciplines those He loves.” (Hebrews 12:6). Teaching this kind of love — His kind of love — is not pretending there isn’t a chasm of sin to cross or fantasizing a person into reality. Love stares deep into dark and through dark to find beauty. She needs to know you know her dark, and that it will not stand, in order to trust you when you tell her you see beauty. Isn’t that so with us and the Lord?

She needs to know and expect your loving-but-firm response to her sin, as she’s desperate for another’s guardrails on her life. Kids long for guardrails — unchanging guardrails, the same ones yesterday as there will be tomorrow. Children were never intended by Him to control their surroundings.

Be consistently consistent, it’s her safety.

Treat her like the daughter she is, not the orphan she was is the motto in our home.

When her behavior makes you want to retreat, take that as your cue to engage. Restoration love isn’t threatened by sin, it’s activated. When you take a step towards pouring out what you don’t have, He pours in. Give her the love your flesh can’t conjure. Give her the love that requires His overshadowing. He will surprise you, I promise.

Press in. These days are not her days to grow if they aren’t, first, your days to grow. It isn’t “when you get through this” that you’ll find Him. Now is your greatest opportunity to thrive.

These incidents are not accidents and the heart-pain they reveal in you is bigger than your circumstances. As He heals her orphan heart, He is healing yours too. Both are on His radar.

Slow down. Pour out to Him; He can handle your chest-heaving cries. And receive. He has gold for you in this season. And that gold is a greater depth of communion with Him.

And, finally, tell the story. His story. His final word is never doubt, despair or destruction. The testimony of Jesus is being written on your watch. Speak it out as such. When you get the look of pity from a friend who doesn’t quite understand your pain, tell her you are blessed, because you are.

Mamas, these are not your worst days, these days are fodder for a work that will leave you forever changed.

Perspective is everything.

And we get to turn in our frail human constructs of God for His. This is the best of times.

 

Second photo compliments of Lucy O’ Photo.

  _________________________________

Sara Hagerty

Sara Hagerty

Sara is a wife to Nate and a mother of four (and one on the way) whose birth canal bridged the expanse between the United States and Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working. And out of the overflow of this perplexity, came her writing.You can read more of her writing at Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet.

Losing the Streets

The slum streets were her childhood playground.

Her lungs took their first swallow of earth’s air in the poor African’s version of a waiting room, while her mama held her place in line for a “free-clinic” bed — one that she never saw. Hope was welcomed by this world into the dirt, and it would indoctrinate her first five years of life.

And from what I can tell, she did street life well.

The skill set required to scavenge for food and beg (simply to get by) is quite different, even, than the one needed to slide into the masses of an orphanage food line. To move from streets to shanty-like slums and back again, over and over, makes one resourceful. Vigilant. Prudent.

And … nervous. Afraid.

Nearly six years there, in that life, and now just over six months home, Hope shows the wear-and-tear a child her age is much too young to have received. No government aid could touch the heart-wounds which come from a child fending and fearing during the years she was meant to be furrowing.

Sara Feb 12

My sweet little girl has a heart that longs to live childlike-free, but which is trapped behind years of inertia. At times, she moves like a freight-train — unstopping, always racing, never able to rest. She didn’t stop then, so why now? Rest was danger; how could it, overnight, turn into safety? She barrels through life and, at times, people.

It’s what she has always done. It was her survival.

But tucked away behind 10 of her missteps is one move in the right direction, one sprig of beauty.

And I’m the mama He’s called to search it out.

One of the greatest dangers of adoption is believing for your child what your child already believes about themselves. It’s subtle. And easy, when the sum total of all their behaviors in a given day seems to point in one direction.

But we weren’t called to be the thermometer in the life of a child who has years of seeing themselves in only one light. We are here to tell them who they really are and, in light of who He is, that they are royalty.

Sarah Feb 12 2

They just don’t know it yet. They haven’t been told.

She scooted over on the couch: “Eden can sit here!”

She seemed to be offering her sister an olive branch, by way of the hotly-coveted seat next to Lily for read-aloud time. But, as Eden began to move, Hope’s intentions became clear to me (but not to the others). Instead of forfeiting her own seat next to Lily, she was finagling a way to squeeze, now, two bottoms in one spot. She stepped forward for a moment to re-adjust, so I took the initiative for her.

“Hope! Look at that,” I said, as I surreptitiously scooted her body to the other side of the couch. “You gave your sister the seat you wanted most. Sweetheart, that was beautiful.”

Her face flashed remorse, for a second, before she tried on the new mantle I’d foisted on her. All of a sudden, her countenance changed. She adjusted her shoulders and her eyes sparkled. “Yes, Mommy, Eden can have it. I want her to have it.”

My little girl danced and pranced her way through the rest of that night, light-footed, light-hearted. It was as if she started to believe she might be something other than the tempestuous little girl she’s painted herself to be.

The next morning, I woke to find a different child in my home. She scampered downstairs to get waters for her siblings, without them knowing. She shared her colored pencils without being asked and snuggled closer and longer to all of us. “Mommy, I want to bless you,” she said, as I caught her carrying my running clothes from the floor where I’d left them to my hamper.

And this is how it goes. This is how He is winning her back. The age-old strategy of delight is the Father’s best-kept secret. He kneels, toes pressed against the ground, staring into dirt, and His fingers so tenderly search for that one shoot that says life is here. He wades through years of lies calcified against my heart to find His own Truths buried within, and He calls them forth. I call myself “messy” and He says beauty in the making.

And when I learn from Him, I can do it with her.

Perspective is everything.

No child born of God is forever lost. No doctor’s diagnosis or psychologist’s analysis is the final verdict.

The Father looks on my daughter not with eyes of hopelessness and fear. He stares into her deep and calls forth Himself, planted in her from before the day she met the streets. What the enemy calls misfit, He reclaims as heiress.

And as her now-mother, my role is to carry this torch over her life. I live advocacy in my flesh and in my spirit. My prayers and my words form the bridge of partnership between His promises and her reality. I partner. She is being made new and it’s my job to speak it loud and to believe it in my quiet.

It’s His job to impart it.

And mine to receive.

With all that I am and all that I have, to receive. And this is motherhood.

The streets — or the diagnoses, the fears, the setbacks and mistakes — these do not have to stand. We get to stand in their place.

* Photos courtesy of Mandie Joy

  _________________________________

Sara Hagerty

Sara Hagerty

Sara is a wife to Nate and a mother of four (and one on the way) whose birth canal bridged the expanse between the United States and Africa. After almost a decade of Christian life she was introduced to pain and perplexity and, ultimately, intimacy with Jesus. God met her and moved her when life stopped working. And out of the overflow of this perplexity, came her writing.You can read more of her writing at Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet.

What Has God Done For You?

We try to be very intentional about our dinnertime conversations. David, especially, loves to challenge our children to think about and respond to sermons that we’ve listened to, things that we’re discussing at school and books that we’ve read. The kids have been learning to ask deep questions during our mealtimes, as well. Getting into the swing of things a few nights ago, Grace asked the question, “What has God done for you?”
I loved some of their answers (which were very elaborate and detailed, but I’ll just give you the main points).
He died for me.
He gave me a rock-n-rollin’ family.
He gave me a dad whose like an angel.
He let you adopt me.
He loved me so much.
It was amazing to me that the two things that our children said that they valued the most were the love of Jesus, who died for us, and becoming beloved sons and daughters, through adoption.
Even though our children often tell us that they love us (and some of them even tell us that we are the best parents in the whole world…hehehe…just wait until they discover the truth!), I was surprised at how strongly each one expressed his/her joy in being adopted. I certainly wouldn’t have expected this, anymore than I would have expected a birth child to express such gratitude for being born. But, I also know that when a person has experienced the sort of loss that our precious children have experienced, that person can either get angry, or he/she can choose to love, forgive and be grateful for what he/she does have. I’m so glad that each one of our children is learning to be the latter sort of person.
adoption
It’s a beautiful thing.

 _______________________________

sarah bandimere pic

David and Sarah have been joyfully married for almost 18 years. They have been blessed with 6 wonderful children (one homegrown son, a daughter from Ukraine and four children from China) and are never sure if they’re “done yet”! They love Jesus and are grateful that He has recently led them to the urban core of Kansas City where they are learning to give their lives away as they build His church in the inner city.  You can read more about what God is doing in their lives at http://davidandsarahb.blogspot.com.

He was shy!

If there is one thing I love to celebrate,
it’s progress.

Especially with your children.

It always feels good to begin to see that the things you have been hoping for, praying for, trying your best to patiently teach, finally break through in your child.

That happened for us over the Christmas break.

It was a proud moment for me.

One that not everyone would understand jumping up and down to celebrate.

See, my child acted shy upon meeting his cousins, that live in Texas, for the first time.

Most people don’t jump up and down when their children act shyly.

As a matter of fact, most parents want their children to overcome it.

But for us, it was a major victory.

lokey-008

I really wanted to run around and say,
“My goodness!
Did you just see that?!
My son just hid behind my leg upon meeting new people!!
WHAT?!
YAAAAYY!!”

I mean, no one would really get that, right?
What is wrong with that lady???

But it was HUGE for us!
And for the first time in a while,
I felt the sweet satisfaction of thank-you-Lord progress.

Because it wasn’t even an attention-getting shyness,
which is his usual attempt at coping with new situations.

I was real, legitimate, I-don’t-know-about-this shyness.
And I was proud.

Crazy, huh?
But oh, so real.

Lokey-081

But the good news is…progress is being made.
Our little boy is healing.
Spirit, soul and body.
And I am so blessed to be his mama.

______________________

Lokey 197Anna Lokey and her husband Shaun have four girls (one from China) and FINALLY a boy (also from China). She’s a normal mom, living a life for God, raising a family that does the same, homeschooling, and trying to keep up with everyone’s schedules. She says, “If I can get my kids to school and gymnastics on time and then fix a real meal for dinner, it’s been a good day!” You can read more about them and their anything but LoKEY life on her blog www.anythingbutlokey.com.

Adoption…a clearer picture

Yesterday morning I checked Facebook and saw another adoption t-shirt
design and I can’t ignore it anymore.

I love the hearts of those making the shirts, for fundraisers, for orphan care, for awareness and I know they are worn like a badge of honor…
BUT…
I just can’t get past it, because most of them paint only the “butterfly and rainbows” picture of adoption that simply isn’t the full picture.
I am an adoption advocate, but firstly I am a family preservation advocate and a child advocate.  It’s not about adoption, it’s about the children.
Adoption is more than just having love.  It’s more than joy, blessing, family, happiness etc.
Adoption is a beautiful thing…in it’s own messy way.
My assumption is the shirts are being purchased and worn by PAP’s and AP’s but I feel like as representatives of adoption (because we’ve been there or are going to be there), can we please paint a clear picture?
Not one of doom and gloom but not one of only roses either.
Having a family knit together through both biology and adoption is one of the best things ever and I want to burst with joy when I see our unique little family…
but…
adoption is also one of the hardest things I’ve done.  Some days I want to burst in tears with the loss and hurt we’ve encountered through this process.  I know that I’m not alone in either of these thoughts.
So my challenge, to all of us as PAP’s an AP’s.  Can we stop pretending and painting a picture that isn’t a view of the full masterpiece?  Can we paint a clear picture of the joy and sorrow of adoption while still protecting our kiddos hearts?
Let’s celebrate the beauty of adoption but not gloss over the loss that comes with it, both in our wardrobe and in our speech.
_______________________________
Lindsie BlairLindsie has been married to her husband and best friend, David, almost 9 years.  She is the homeschooling mother of four-ages 7, 5, 5, and 3.  Their youngest two children are Ethiopian born and Korean born. While always Midwesterners at heart, they are loving living in Colorado.  She loves Jesus, her family, hiking, good coffee, and cooking, as well as learning to embrace Life with a capital “L”, as she shares on her blog.