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Archive for November, 2006

“Thank you God for my crown [cardboard thing from Burger King], thank you for mommy & daddy, thank you for my friends . . .”

There is something very precious in hearing  the voice of a small child speaking to his Creator. For the second night in a row B wanted to say his own prayer at bedtime. He has led us often at meal times with a little blessing he learned in preschool (thanks Ms. Jenny!) but had not wanted to attempt speaking in his own words at the times we sit down to pray together. My heart is singing for this tiny little fruit beginning to bud.

Thanksgiving is fast approaching in the U.S. That sweet little voice singing, chattering, giggling, laughing out loud, and now praying, is one of the things I’m most thankful for. But my thankfulness comes with a bag of mixed emotions. Every thing about B that makes me smile is something that J is missing. In the midst of my joy, there is a hint of sadness as I realize this.

At the same moment I’m thankful for this precious child, I’m sad for what J is missing, what her family is missing, and what B is missing. He has another whole set of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters that he will not know until he’s grown, if ever. I do hope he will know them one day. I also hope I will see J again some day and give her a long deserved hug.

She is a part of B’s bedtime prayers every night. I have written that to her many times. I truly hope she knows in her heart how much we love her. Although this is only a semi-open adoption – in that we correspond via letters and email through the agency – I consider her to be a part of our family. She is a part of our family. There is so much of her in B. We did not meet B’s first-dad, but I’m sure there is much like him in B, too.

That is another dimension of my thankfulness for B. Although we are raising him and teaching him how to live in the world, much of who he is comes from those genes that came from his first-parents. Being thankful for B leads to being thankful for each of them. Then, that brings me back around to feeling sad that B doesn’t get to know them. Ah, what a crazy mixed up thing adoption is.

So, mixed bag of emotions and all, I am thankful for peace that passes understanding. I am thankful for my family, such that it is. I am thankful for bedtime prayers.

I wish that peace for each of you this Thanksgiving week.  God bless you.

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A week or so ago I found a link to this Christmas Countdown over on MissLionheart. I momentarily freaked out, then promptly forgot about it. I just can’t believe how quickly the days are flying by. We’ll be sitting in 2007 wondering what on earth happened to 2006 before we even know what hit us!

Well, I remembered the countdown this morning as I noticed G nearly on the verge of frantic as he starts listing all the things we need to do, people to contact, plans to be made . . . As a result I can feel “frantic” beginning to well up in my spirit.

Deep breath.

I would like to refuse to be frantic this holiday season. I suppose one way to do that is to get organized, plan ahead, blah blah blah. Well, that sort of thing does not come naturally to me. I can get frantic over trying to avoid getting frantic. 🙂 I’m thinking more along the lines of listing out all the things we think we have to do, and then deciding what from that list is most important. As things get shuffled lower on the list, perhaps some could be dropped all together.

I mean really, what is Christmas all about anyway? Are all the things on this list (in no particular order) absolutely necessary in order for Christmas to occur?

  • finish B’s gift list for the grandparents done! 🙂
  • holiday portraits scratching that one off this year.
  • annual family newsletter – It’s looking like this will be a New Year’s letter as we leave for the in-laws day after tomorrow – aaack! (12/14).
  • baking for the neighbors – unless I can get some baking done tonight – these will also be new years treats. 🙂 (12/14)
  • long list of community events to attend – last local event is tonight. Only thing left I know of will be Christmas Eve service at my in-law’s church.
  • traveling to visit family & friends – leave day after tomorrow!!! (12/14)
  • gift shopping/making – in progress
  • decorating done! 🙂
  • addressing & stamping those newsletters/cards – as stated above – New Year cards 🙂 (12/14)
  • Advent or Jesse Tree devotions – in process
  • mailing packages ordering on-line to have shipped 🙂
  • update & pictures off to the agency for J done! 🙂

Did I miss anything? Oh yes, there’s also volunteering or charity work. Since having B we usually throw that in with the shopping and pick someone from an Angel Tree. In another year or so he should be old enough to actually participate in something a bit more involved. 

Anyway, now that I’ve made the list, I’m hard pressed to decide what I might give up from all these holiday activities. Perhaps I should take another look at planning ahead and getting organized. 🙂 But I do want to make sure I and my family enjoy this holiday season without feeling frantic or stressed out.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7 (ESV)

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Still Walking

So, I still haven’t answered the original questions posed by Dawn (This Woman’s Work):

How did your understanding of God impact your feelings around adoption? How did your feelings around adoption impact your understanding of God? 

That is tough to answer as I really think it has changed these past few months. And I have also discussed it here as I’ve processed. So I’m not sure whether it warrants repeating. But I just read Cloudscome’s beautiful answer to this and feel spurred on to try.

Early on I had our adoption story posted as a page, but took it down for rewriting after my encounters with KimKim and others. I still haven’t managed that rewrite. But I remember stating in that story that B coming to our family was God ordained. I think that is the main point that has changed for me in all this.

That specifically is a hard issue to sort through as there is this delicate balance between God’s sovereignty and our free will. I keep returning to the story of Sarah and Abraham – how their faith faltered and they attempted to take matters into their own hands. Sarah gave here maid, Hagar, to Abraham for the purpose of having that elusive child they so desired. This action had tragic results for their family that still resonate down through history.

But, in all this, God is still in control. And He uses these actions and events for His own purposes. Another story from the old testament illustrates that God does not allow free will when it directly opposes His plan and purpose. Do you remember the story of Balaam’s donkey? You can find it in Numbers 22, it’s the one where the donkey talks to Balaam. Ultimately Balaam winds up blessing, when he is trying to curse, Israel.

So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s possible that many who adopt, including myself, are exercising their free will. It’s possible we’re pulling a Sarah, so to speak, and taking matters into our own hands to establish the families we so desire. But God is still in control and can still work in and through all that. He is the great physician that can heal the deepest of wounds. He gives peace that passes our understanding.

I have recently been blessed by the story of one first-mom who has walked a hard road to where she is now. Perhaps I can enlist her to share her story here one day. She knows this great physician and has experienced His healing and peace. Her faith is deep and strong, her worship free and genuine. Her story has blessed me beyond measure and gives me much hope.

I still believe adoption is at times necessary in this broken world, painful though it is. I strongly feel it is our calling to minister in some way to families that are broken, be it through adopting or fostering or in some other way. We’re still searching and praying for that path to be made clear to us. It likely won’t until we’re upon it. It comes down to faith and trust as we walk this walk one step at a time. I believe that when we seek God’s wisdom and guidance He does not withhold it from us. And I believe He is using many of you in guiding us in His wisdom. Thank you.

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Walk of Faith

Anyone who has read my blog before has probably picked up that I am a Christian – a follower of Christ – walking by faith and living in grace. That has been the case in my life since I was 13, having made my first step of faith at summer church camp. I’ve often questioned that particular experience as I did not really understand what it all meant, and didn’t have anyone in my life to disciple me or even lead by example for many years after that.

But, as I look back over my life since then, in spite of myself, I can see the hand of God guiding me, protecting me, and growing me up in Him. The potential for disaster was there throughout my adolescence and early adult years. But, for some reason, God protected me from myself and from some that could have easily harmed me in so many ways. I marvel at that as I know so many others that did meet disaster during these years.

Not that my life was all roses and chocolate cake. My adolesence and early 20’s were some of the most chaotic in my family. My parents were seperated  several times and my brother was having a very rough time. The church I attended with my parents went through a rather nasty split that had a huge impact on my faith at the time. I was devastated to see folks that I looked up to treating each other so horribly. I actually stopped attending church for a while.

I did learn one very important lesson. Although I can learn from the walks of others, that is not where my faith should be placed. People, being people, 🙂 will disappoint me, may even hurt me. And, frankly, so will I. I learned not to look up so much to people who are fallible, but place my faith and trust in my infallible Creator.

Being the fallen creature that I am, I’ve continued to learn this lesson again and again. Along with that I am learning what it means to live in grace. I am incapable of doing anything to gain favor in the sight of God. My sinful, wretched, self is covered by the righteousness of Christ. Anything that seems good or admirable in me, I would say, is Christ in me. Same goes for my brothers and sisters. Grace and mercy I receive I need to also give. Another lesson I seem to need over and over again. 🙂

This lesson often comes when my own sin is revealed to me. Recently, I took a matter to a women’s group for prayer regarding my husband. From praying with these women I realized my own sinful pride in the matter. I then had more confirmation of this at a women’s conference I attended this past weekend. It was a wonderful weekend reminding me what my life is about – and it’s not about me.

A few years ago, now, I had a problem with television. During B’s naps I was spending the entire time watching certain shows. Mostly it was Star Trek series, but I also would get involved in other shows. A friend of mine prayed specifically for deliverance from this. Not long after she began praying I completely lost the desire to even turn on the TV. Before, I would proclaim cessation, but it was a struggle, with the shows I knew were on almost calling to me in my head. But that stopped completely and I still have no desire to turn the TV on much of the time.

That may seem like a silly or insignificant example of the power of God working in someone’s life. But television has a pretty powerful hold on many folks that I know. I’m so thankful that my friend cared enough to pray for that – and am especially thankful to God for how He worked by removing that desire. I’m still learning, myself, how to pray as my friend does. I will continue to learn, relearn, and grow up as God’s child for the rest of my life here. It is a walk of faith.

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Talk of Faith

At the end of my last post I mentioned faith and prayer regarding our adoption decisions. That brings me to this post. I have seen around the blogosphere distinct hostility expressed towards those that believe the Bible and profess to follow Christ. These are just general blogs I’ve linked to here & there around WordPress, not any regarding adoption. The pure hatred expressed on some of these blogs makes me shudder. I have also bumped into this kind of hostility on some anti-adoption forums I’ve ventured into. Of course you have to wonder at the pain experienced by some folks to generate such hatred and hostility.

Recently in trying to catch up on some of my favorite blogs I hopped over to Third Mom and found this post about faith and adoption. In this post she expresses discomfort with the combination of religion and adoption as well as concern over faith-based adoption agencies. The post is well worth the read and certainly gives me much more to think about (as if I didn’t have enough on my thought-plate already!). But I’m not sure I 100% agree.

For starters, here’s a quote by Uma Thurman from an interview with Reader’s Digest (July 2006 issue):

Because of him [her father], I often get asked if I’m a Buddhist. I always say no, because I have such respect for the rigor of being a practicing religious person. I’m an actress and mom, and I probably don’t have enough of an active spiritual life. And I don’t know why people run around calling themselves by the names of religions when they don’t actually practice them.

I know that as I grow in my faith it impacts the daily choices I make, as well as the bigger decisions, more and more. I do talk about my faith here on this blog much more than I do in my daily face to face conversations. This has become a place to process what’s going on in my head and what I’m learning from others. And, well, I do process through the lens of my faith. So, my faith does geat mixed up with my thoughts on adoption. I don’t know that it is possible to seperate the two.

I think in regards to adoption, regardless whether someone is utilizing a faith-based organization, it is very important to be open and honest about your faith – whether you adhere to anything in particular and what that is. It is important for folks to know where you’re coming from and how you’re looking at things. (Ahh, but then there are those preconcieved notions – what people think they know about being Christian or Budhist, or whatever. Those can certainly be difficult to get beyond and can even shut down communication. But that’s probably another whole conversation.)

Of course there is a BIG difference between being open and honest about your faith and using “faith/religion” in order to influence or even manipulate someone. There is certainly a line that shouldn’t be crossed in talking about one’s faith. And I think this is more what ThirdMom is concerned about. And I also think that kind of “speech,” real or percieved, may also be at the root of much of the hostility I mentioned earlier.

I know that I generally appreciate when someone shares about their faith and gives insight into where they’re coming from. Sure, I don’t always agree or believe what they believe. Ultimately where someone stands is between that person and God. Sure, God might use something I say or someone else says to open a window on their understanding – but that’s not me nor is it up to me. My striving is to be the person I was created to be for the Glory of my Creator and treat folks I bump into in life with kindness and respect, for they were also created by the God I love. I only wish everyone would attempt such an ideal. But, then we would live in a nearly perfect world, wouldn’t we. But, our world is far from perfect.

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So, why the talk about orphans? Well, it’s been on my mind. I’m going to be frank and honest here about my thought journey, if I’m able to make sense of it “on paper,” anyway.

When I began my adoption education here on this blog several months back, my mind turned toward orphans around the world. “We’ll make sure to find a child, or children, that are really in need of a home and family,” I thought. But, as I continued my education, reading several blogs from all perspectives (many you can link to in my blogroll), I began to realize it just wasn’t that simple.

From corrupt governemtns to broken families, children are getting lost in the shuffle. So often, what is best for them and their families is an afterthought, if they’re even considered at all by those in power. I really, at this point, haven’t done hard research and learned facts and figures. I’ve only seen it referenced from those that have. But having seen those references and heard those opinions, I have the desire to learn more.

So, what do I do now? If B is going to have any siblings in our home, adoption is the only way it’s going to happen, as far as I can tell. And, one of the things we assured J (B’s first mom) when we talked was that we would adopt again and that B would grow up with siblings. So, I guess it’s time for me to start doing the hard work of learning those facts and figures so we can make informed decisions and ensure we proceed with an ethical adoption, or whatever route we go.

But where do I start? It seems so overwhelming that I’m practically immobilized. Any recommendations would be much appreciated. I have seen references to some books around other blogs, so perhaps I’ll have a look at those. Although some of those look to be tough reads emotionally. I don’t want to throw myself into an emotional tailspin I can’t get out of – still have to be wife and mom around here. 🙂

I do know that our time here at the Academy is nearly halfway done already. We’ll find out next month about G’s promotion and should know by January where we’ll go next. I also know that just about anything we consider regarding adoption or foster care will have something negative about it. So, at some point I do have to turn off my ears and focus on what is going to work best for our family and how we can best help a child/children and their families.

If nothing else, our heart for adoption/foster care has shifted from becoming parents and providing a home for a few kids, to somehow helping and ministering to whole families. But what that will look like and how it will work – no clue! As I said before, I appreciate input, suggestions, encouragement, etc . . . But I most especially I ask for those that pray to remember us and ask our Creator for guidance and wisdom. I do believe that God is there and will guide us if we seek Him.

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More to Chew On

I found a wonderful story on Harlow’s Monkey about a family that “fostered” a baby while living in Africa. Here is a link to the article: Couple Reunites with Lost ‘Son.’

Here’s another post from Harlow’s Monkey: Story of Madonna and (Black) Child, which is very thought provoking. I had started to write my own post on that subject, but am undecided at the moment. There are some other folks around the blogosphere that have written on it much better than I could.

Of course, now I can’t find them! sigh. Here are a couple from This Woman’s Work:

If I find any of the others I’d seen, I’ll add them to the list. Happy Monday!

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