Friday, January 22, 2010

Adopted for Life

As our involvement in local orphan care and adoption ministry has increased, I have been reading many books on adoption that have been great sources of information, confirmation, and encouragement.  My heart sings with joy as I go deeper and understand even more why adoption is so close to God's heart and I marvel that he has allowed us to walk this path four times...with more to come!

I just HAD to share the book with you that currentely is blessing my socks off. It is called Adopted for Life by Russell Moore. If you have even tinkered with the idea of adoption for a split second or know someone who has, then I pray you will read this book. It speaks to me so powerfully and has put into words, finally, why certain questions from strangers or nosy aquaintances bug the life out of me.

For instance, when someone asks "are they real siblings?" What does that imply?

I mean, really. What makes a real sibling? DNA? Eye color? A common womb?

Is it really that shallow?

Because if we base our judgment of relationships on those things then we are lost.

We are all adopted by God...Gentiles share in the heritage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through adoption. The blood of JESUS makes us family, not the fact that we prayed a prayer or go to church or grew up in a Christian home. Without the blood of Jesus paying our ransom, delivering us from a life of sin and death in the chains of the enemy to a life filled with the inheritance of blessings from the hands of our Father God, we are nothing but strangers to Him.

So when someone asks "are they real siblings?" they are, in fact, invalidating their relationship...saying it is something less than "real." In fact, as Russell Moore states in reaction to someone asking that very question about his sons..."The query seemed to be asking, 'is this a real family or just a legal fiction?' The question seemed to render them orphans again." renders them orphans.

Finally, after 10 years, someone has been able to put into words why my heart bleeds everytime I have been asked this question. And it never fails, it is always asked in front of my children...and I always worry that it will plant a seed of fear, the worry that they are something less than siblings,
something less than my own.

Because from the moment the judge pronounced their adoptions final, they have been nothing less than "real brothers and sisters." Just as you and I share in the full heritage of our Father God, they share in the full heritage of their earthly parents. We are their real parents, they are our OWN children, and they are real siblings.
As we wade through the dossier and prepare for the new children the Lord has planned for our hearts fall in love with thoughts of them and we pray for their safe homecoming...we are, in effect, pregnant.  We are pregnant with expectation and anticipation, and it grows with every signature and every checkmark on my list that brings us closer to them.  And the second the courts declare them ours and I have safely gathered them into my arms, they will be every bit "my own" and I will carefully bring them home from across the ocean to live with their "real brothers and sisters" and teach them what it means to be a "real family."  I will rejoice in their uniqueness, and I will love the sound of their African accents mingling with the sweet drawl of my American-born children.  I will watch as ALL of my children surround our dinner table and ALL of my children hang their stockings at Christmas and ALL of my children pile into our laps for bedtime prayers.  And I will be fiercely protective, like a mama elephant, of their hearts.  I will bristle at comments that threaten to render them orphans and imply that they we are anything less than "real", anything less than "family".

Because, like you and I, they will be adopted...for life.  Fully, completely, and irrevocably. 

How great is the love God has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  1John 3:1

"Proud" Parent Moment

My 8 year old daughter was reading from the book "The Silver Chair" from the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis to her siblings with dramatic flair.  As she read, DJ, age 9 had our globe in his lap and was looking for England. 
I was feeling quite proud as my children shared in an "intellectual" exercise without my prompting.  I happily chopped onions as I listened to them enjoy such a wonderful, classic piece of literature.

You know what is coming, right?

So Katie reads a sentence which mentions the city of London.  DJ spins the globe and asks in all seriousness...

"Where is London?  In France?"

I knew it couldn't last. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Once Upon a Time... a land far, far away...

Oh wait, that's Star Wars.

We came, we saw, we bought stuff, we ate candy and other miscellaneous junk food, and we slept like babies when we got home!  Here are a few pics from the trip:

This is inside the Bibbiti Bobbiti Boutique.  Oh the sweet girliness!

One of the gorgeous scenes at Epcot.  I loved how glassy the water appeared.

Cinderella's Castle with the sun gleaming behind.  Through those arches fairy godmothers work their magic, transforming little girls into princesses.  It is enough to make me want to be four again!

Princess Tiana's dress...made up of Tiana dolls!  She is SUCH a big deal...the first African American Disney Princess.  For my daughters, it is HUGE.  They finally have a princess who is beautiful, smart, funny, and them.

I realize this would seem to be an odd picture to place here.  Once you read this story you will understand why this may be one of my favorite pictures that I took all week.

It had been a rough day with oldest son.  He is a "tween" and, well, we are walking through tween issues...sometimes publicly.  He is a wonderful, godly young man but struggles at times with handling disappointment like all of us. 
We were waiting for the Epcot fireworks to begin.  In fact we had been waiting for a while and he was bored.  He wanted to duck into a nearby shop but because there were hundreds of people crowded around us I did not feel comfortable letting him out of my sight.  He didn't care about the fireworks, didn't know what the big deal was, and would much rather be on the boat back to our cabin so he could watch Disney Channel until he passed out from sheer exhaustion.  That, of course, was not an option.  So he sat down hard, crossed his arms, and pouted.  My heart felt heavy, and I was annoyed at the same time.  If you have tweens I am sure you can relate.
Suddenly a frail woman approached me.  She was small, bent over, her hands were clenched in arthritic fists, but she opened one just enough for me to be able to see what she held.
A small, silver cross.
"I have been observing your beautiful family," she said in a clear voice.  "I was wondering if you would allow me to give a gift to your eldest.  I know how hard in can be on the eldest child sometimes."
I was almost speechless. 
"Of course.  Thank you.  That is so nice of you."
With that she slowly hobbled over to where he sat, bent over, and whispered something to him as she presented the cross.  His eyes changed from dark with anger to lit with surprise 
In that moment his stubbornness melted and he ended up watching the fireworks by my side...even apologizing for his attitude.  She quietly went back to her wheelchair and never looked back.
I believe that dear woman was sent straight from God, from a Father who saw a child in need of what only He could give, and she heard the Call and obeyed.  Our God who commands all the armies of Heaven took notice of my son and loved on him in that moment in a way that neither my husband nor I could do.  My son needed it to come from Him...and believe me, he knows that is exactly where it came from.
That cross...that little 10 cent cross that you can buy in a bin at the bookstore...the one that says "God Loves You" worth more than all the gold in the world to me.  That little cross represents the tangible presence of God in the life of my son.  He sees, and He knows every detail of his heart and He has him safe in the palm of His hand.

Indeed, my heart is full.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

a foretaste...

A week in Disney World just before Christmas was a whirlwind of fun memories.  I still have not recovered from all the wonderful craziness of December but wanted to give you a quick glimpse...

This was the most beautiful manmade thing I have ever laid eyes on.  Can you imagine what God has in store for us in Heaven???

Happy New Year!!