Sunday, June 30, 2013

My ministry

It was one of those days today.

Getting three kids ready for church is no easy feat in itself, especially since Justin was catching up on some much-needed sleep, so I was doing it alone. We had tears and a few minor tantrums, but we made it, and we were only 5 minutes late. I shuffled Cora & Noah to class, but Noah refused to go in. After several fruitless attempts, I decided to take him with me to drop off Evan in the baby nursery. By the time I got into church (with Noah in tow) the last song was just finishing. We had missed all of the worship, my favorite part. We settled in to listen to the message. Less than 10 minutes later, a nursery volunteer came to tell me Evan was really fussy.

Have I mentioned that church is during his nap time?

So we went back to the baby nursery, where I ended up staying. At first, I was a little peeved. I had really hoped to go to church and be spiritually filled after a long, (LONG), tiring week. But then I picked up a friend's sweet little baby girl and cuddled her for a while. A precious little toddler came up to me and handed me a book, then settled in next to me in expectation. As I read to her and bounced the baby on my knee, I realized something....

There is no place I would rather be.

It's as if God said, "This is your ministry. This is your act of worship."

We just love kids. There is no doubt in our minds that we want more children, and want to pursue that through adoption. I know God gave me this love for children, because I used to pray I wasn't asked to help out in the nursery. (Embarrassing, but true.) I liked children, and knew I wanted my own, but was never really interested in spending most of my time surrounded by needy little energy-draining people. But God isn't interested in what we want as much as He is interested in teaching us to care for those He loves.

I met an adoptive mom once, shortly after my oldest was born.  I remember reading a sentence in her Facebook profile. It said something along the lines of, "I'd rather be reading a children's book to little ones than the latest novel." I thought to myself, "that's crazy, that'll never be me. I love my daughter, but I'll never choose a children's book over a book I want to read!" It sounds selfish, and it was. I didn't understand why someone would be that "into" hanging out with their kids. I didn't get it.

Now, I do.

I understand.

Because taking the time to read to a sweet child is something beautiful.

Seeing those big smiles and hearing those giggles fills my heart with unspeakable joy.

Hugging them while tears fall are moments that shape them for eternity.

See, we're not just loving these children. We are shaping them, molding them, teaching them. This is a legacy, something that will last, something worthwhile.

God has flooded my heart with love for these children. All of them. The least of these.

This is my ministry. And I would have it no other way.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father to the Fatherless

"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling." - Psalm 68:5-6

Today, while celebrating the fathers in my life, my mind kept going back to the above verse. I love that God has always referred to Himself as a Father, with us as His children. I think it's the closest we can get to understand just how much He loves us. As a mom, there is nothing my children could do to make me stop loving them. Sure, they can disappoint and hurt me, but I love them still. It's crazy to think God loves us even more than that.

So, here's a legitimate question. If God is in His holy dwelling, how can He be a father to the fatherless, and a defender of widows? There are tangible needs the fatherless (orphans) and widows have. How can God meet those needs?

The answer: WE are the hands & feet of God!

"Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ's compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now." - Saint Teresa of Avila

God works through believers. He prompts them to say or do certain things. You may feel led to give money to a family in need. Or God may draw you to consider adoption. Or it may be something much simpler than that. The point is, if we are in tune with God, we will hear from Him on when to act. Whether we pay attention to those prompts or not says a lot about the condition of our hearts. 

"Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed" but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (James 2:15-17)

I believe a lot of people misinterpret these verses to support a works-based salvation plan. But this is saying that works are a RESULT of our salvation through grace. It's the natural following of a saving faith in Jesus Christ. When we assume someone else will take care of it, we are choosing to ignore what God has called us to do. Not only do we miss out on blessings, but we miss out on the chance to be a powerful light to those who may never before had the chance to see faith in action.

"Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked." - Psalm 82:3-4

The bottom line is this: If every Christian allowed themselves to be used by God, for HIS glory, and HIS plan, we would impact the world in such a HUGE, AMAZING way. But as I said in my last post...we need to be willing. Are you willing to be God's hands & feet?

"Sometimes I would like to ask God why He allows poverty, suffering, and injustice when He could do something about it. But I'm afraid He would ask me the same question."

Tuesday, June 11, 2013


I remember before adoption was ever really even a thought on my horizon. I had this picture of the family that adopts orphans. They have it all together! They make good money, have a large house, a rock-solid faith in God, know all the parenting answers, and have everlasting amounts of patience. (I wish I were kidding, but that is what I always pictured!) Yet what I have found out, in my research and conversations, is that this isn't the case.

Adoptive parents are normal people. They argue with each other. They struggle with how to discipline their children. They don't know everything, and sometimes feel completely ill-equipped to handle the situations they have been given. And they aren't always patient.

Now that we've come out into the open about our desire to adopt, I want to make this as real as possible. We definitely DON'T have it all together. We live in a modest, 1285 square foot cape, and if we decide to adopt a girl, it will take a bit of demolition and handyman work to fit our 2 girls in the smaller bedroom upstairs. We currently don't have anything set aside toward the daunting $20,000-$40,000 it will cost to adopt. We sometimes yell at the kids. My patience runs out more often that I would like. Going to the store with 3 young kids is sometimes still a nightmare. We have a car with 3 kids crammed in the back, and have no idea how we'll afford to get a larger vehicle when we add to the family.

But here's what we do have: Faith. Trust. Willingness. Compassion. Love.

You don't need to be the best parent, have a big house, or the perfect marriage in order to give a child a loving home. I'll be honest, I still struggle with feeling inadequate for this undertaking. But then I am reminded of two things:
1) I am 100% confident I can love this child
2) I can do all things in Christ

Sometimes, all God asks of us is that we are willing. We look around at other Christians and ask, "why not them? They are (smarter, more patient, richer, etc)" and God can point at us and say, "why not YOU? I will equip you. Just trust me."

What it comes down to is that God cannot use someone who isn't willing.

Giving up control to someone you cannot physically see is a bit daunting. I don't care what anyone says, we all like to feel in control of our own lives. I personally hate feeling out-of-control! But we must be willing to give up that which we hold closest, those things we clutch with white knuckles because we never, ever want to let it go. Will God make you give those things up? I don't know. It could be like Abraham and Isaac, where God only needed to know Abraham was willing. Or He could be calling you to sacrifice your dreams, your desires, your treasures at the foot of the cross.

"Sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." - Jesus (Matthew 19:21)

I am working on focusing on the eternal. The things of this world are all temporary. They don't last!

But a legacy, that is something that lasts.

Beautiful souls going to heaven, that is eternal.

These are the things that matter, and I never want to lose sight of that.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Step by Step

What a crazy weekend, spiritually and emotionally. We spent a lot of time praying and talking about adoption. We were asking for answers, and in particular whether we should look into adopting the girl I briefly mentioned in the last post. I could think of 10,000 reasons NOT to adopt her. But God whispered, "why not?" I decided to get in touch with someone to discuss it in more depth. After a few e-mails back and forth, later that night, she wrote to tell me a family committed to adopting the girl. My heart really truly is filled with joy for her, and I am grateful that God gave us an answer so quickly. But I don't think it was all for nothing. I think God is wanting to stretch us and open our minds and hearts to ideas, and children, we may not have normally considered. I honestly don't know when we'll adopt. We could start the process in a couple weeks, or it could be years. Right now, we're doing out best to follow what God asks of us. It's step by step, we don't see the whole plan right now, just the step directly in front of us. It can be frustrating, but I think that is how He needs to grow us in this whole process.

One thing that began this weekend was some pretty intense spiritual warfare. Thankfully, my husband recognized it for what it was, and we were able to get through it. Everyone tells me when you are following God's will, the devil will be right there with you. I'm sure we should be expecting more attacks as we pursue this.

Church was wonderful yesterday. It was one of the rare times where you almost feel like the pastor has been spying on you because his message was so perfectly tailored to what you are going through. Of course, it was God, and I knew that. He spoke about treasures, and how God asks us to trade our 'treasures' - things, money, etc. - for the real Treasure. We need to open our hands completely to God in order for Him to take control. I picture myself holding one hand outstretched, the other closed tightly behind my back. Boy, does God have more work to do in me!

He also talked about the enemy, and how he will do anything to get us to turn away from God. He will even allow us to have good things - material things, good experiences, etc. - in order to distract us from our goal. He wants us to get to the point where things are going so well, we feel like we don't need God. With the spiritual warfare that had been going on, it was all so timely.

I am so grateful for a good Sunday because I desperately needed to be refreshed.