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Friday, August 26, 2011

Why China's "Waiting Children"? (Part 4)

Matthew 25: 40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'

As we began the process of looking into agencies and programs, it didn't take long at all for God to close many doors- some countries we weren't eligible for, some required very lengthy stays in the country. China was actually one we first thought was closed to us because they have a "4 children in the home" limit. We kept looking. I found myself poring over adoptable children's pictures and I was always looking at the cute ones, I'll admit. The Lord pricked my heart and showed me that was not HIS heart. Jesus went to the least desirable by the world's standards. He came to those who were the outcasts, the ugly, the despised of the world. How far is my heart from where it needs to be! What is the one thing we pray for when we are pregnant? A healthy child (and I secretly hope they are cute!). In our culture, abortions occur all the time when a child is found to have even the slightest problem. These children are truly among the "least of these" that Jesus is talking about. In China, girls are not valued, much less a girl with a deformed limb or a cleft lip. These children are orphaned mainly due to the "one child" law. Parents aren't allowed to put their children up for adoption, so they are abandoned and found by orphanages.

Early in our marriage Joey very seriously said to me that he thought someday we might have a child with special needs. I was not surprised, and I don't know why. I just never thought it would happen by adoption. To ask for that sounds nuts! We found out after doing some research that China's "4 children max. in the home" does not apply for the "hard to place" special needs children. Thank God, He says that in His kingdom the last will be first, and the first will be last. His thinking is so different from ours!

We looked online and did phone interviews with four agencies. What set apart Lifeline agency for us was the MaoMing orphanage they are connected with near Hong Kong. It houses 60 orphans, all with medical special needs. If these children are not adopted by a family, they will typically spend the majority of their youth in institutionalized care and most will never have the opportunity to lead a normal life. I watched an interview of a woman describing the first time she went to an orphanage in China and saw her future daughter there. She described how dirty the special needs babies were- they were bathed last and were of a lower priority than the healthy children. Totally opposite of how Jesus said heaven will be. That gripped my heart! Looking at the pictures and videos of these waiting children, Joey said, "we need to go get Charlotte". Now, we aren't certain she is the child we will adopt, but at the very least, she was the motivation God used for us to choose that agency and the MaoMing orphanage.

Truly, this is not something I ever would have chosen on my own. If it were up to me, I would have continued to ignore the call and enjoy an easier life. I am just thankful for His amazing grace that I didn't have to get swallowed up by a whale to get me to do what He called us to. It is so freeing to finally submit to His will with a long overdue cry of, "yes, Lord, I will go. Send me." To God be the glory, great things He has done!

Why Internationally? (Part 3)

"Matthew 28: 19-20" Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

There was never a question about domestic vs. International for us. We had no idea which country, agency, or any of the logistics, we just knew God was calling us to go completely out of our comfort zone and embark into the unknown world of international adoption- we had no choice but to trust and obey in faith. For our family, part of our "Great Commission" calling is to go into 'all the world' and bring a child into our family to love and share the love of Christ. This was one aspect of our hearts' desire to adopt Internationally. We also knew we were supposed to choose a country that was restricted or hostile to the gospel. While there are so many who need homes right here in America, at least these children are in a country with great opportunity and a chance to hear the truth of God's word. It is just not like that in approximately 54 other countries around the world. Here is a short link to read about China.

Friday, August 05, 2011

Why Adopt? (Part 2)

James 1:27 "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

While not every family is called to adopt, as Christians, we are all expected to do something and not turn a blind eye to the plight of children around the world. I turned a blind eye for so long! For us, sending a check to a good cause to ease the suffering just wasn't enough, for "obedience is better than sacrifice" (1 Samuel 15:22). I'm sure it sounds crazy and we'll be asked a lot of questions about why in the world we would want to do this when we already have 5 children and obviously do not have trouble having kids "of our own". It is hard to understand and cannot be explained without giving God all the credit and pointing to Him. When I was an orphan without a heavenly Father because of my sin that separated me from Him, He came and sent His Son to take the punishment for my sin and forgave and adopted me to be His child. Adoption is a beautiful picture of the Father's love for HIS children- an earthly picture of a heavenly idea.

It's hard not to wonder how adopting one child in a sea of literally millions of orphans can actually make a difference. But, for that one child it will make a world of difference. I am only one child of God's in a sea of millions, and how very grateful I am that He counted me as important enough to die for. Christ would have come down to save just one sinner like me. He rescued me from the plight I was in, and now He wants me to be His hands and feet to help one of these precious little ones. Not that I am the rescuer, but that He is and I am a vessel He can use to bring others to Himself. What a privilege! What a calling!

It all comes down to this. Children are a blessing and there's always room in our hearts and our home for one more. There is a little child out there somewhere right now without hope in the world waiting for this Mommy to come get her and she has no idea how great her life is going to be someday. She will have a whole house full of people to love her- a family to call her own.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Do Something Radical (Part 1)

I've learned to never say what I won't do. I told Joey before we got married that if he wanted someone who was going to homeschool his kids, that person was NOT me. It's funny how when we finally give in to doing what the Lord wants us to do, he can make it so that we want to do the thing he's called us to more than we ever thought possible. After all, it wouldn't be obedience if we were just doing what we wanted to do. It was that way with homeschooling, and it's become that way with this crazy adventure called international adoption. It wasn't that adopting hasn't always been in the back of my mind. It has been. But, way, way back. Before we got married, we discussed adoption as something we would do "someday", and I was totally comfortable with that. We looked into it while Joey was in Korea when we were engaged and he often visited a local orphanage. I'll have to admit, I was secretly very relieved when we found out adopting from Korea was not an option at that time. It came up a few other times in our marriage, but I always had a reason why it was just not a good time. Joey read "Adopted for Life" a couple years ago and I know he was hoping I would read it, but I didn't even want to hear about it, much less read the book and risk being convicted about it.

Upon Joey's return from Afghanistan, it became clear that my complacency in my Christian walk was no longer going to be an option. Joey and I each read three books that brought to life what we already knew to be true from the Bible. Those three books, which I highly recommend for every Christian to read were "Stop Dating the Church", "Crazy Love" and "Radical"- followed by me finally reading "Adopted for Life". What a much needed jolt to my spirit! God called me to so much more than my comfortable life here and now. I do not want to stand before Him someday ashamed that I lived for me and my own desires. I want to live for Him and His glory and share in His eternal and global perspective. "Crazy Love" had been given to me by a Christian friend over a year before I actually read it. Again, I really did not want to read this book, because I knew it would require something of me and I was already resisting the Lord's voice in my life to "come, follow me"..."sell everything you have and give it to the poor and come, follow me". I was like the rich young ruler walking away from Jesus sad because I had so much, and I didn't want to give it all up for him for far too long. I love the way God works, though. He doesn't let us stay this way when we are His.

We were selected to go to a family retreat at Sandy Cove in Northeast MD this summer free for military after a deployment. We almost didn't go because we thought we were going to be moving. I sent an e-mail to Sandy Cove to cancel our reservation or at least switch us to come a different weekend than "home school week" because it was going to conflict with our move. But, alas, our orders were changed and we weren't moving and somehow that e-mail never made it to Sandy Cove. Instead what I got from them was a confirmation e-mail for our reservation for homeschool week. So, we went. And, what was the speaker talking about all week long? Living a "Radical" life for Christ. Being willing to sell or give up everything to come and follow him. Wow. The same exact thing we had been reading about and that the Lord was constantly pricking my heart with- my resistance to doing what he wanted me to do. We heard so many testimonies that week of families who had adopted. They set out to be a blessing to others and in the end they were the ones blessed. The Lord worked on my heart there and asked me if I really believed all children were a blessing, or just my own (the ones I could have biologically)? One of the mornings Joey and I actually put into words what we were both knowing we were supposed to do. It was time for us to start the process to adopt. I was still scared, but I knew that saying no to God was not an option anymore.

As soon as I submitted to God and gave up the fight, He filled me with a desire and a passion and now I want to adopt. It truly is amazing how quickly this happened- it was almost instantaneous. I went from saying no way, I can't do that and I could have told you a million reasons why it was a crazy idea (and I can still do that in my weak moments of doubt and worry!) to having a heart realizing God's love for precious children around the world who need a family to love them. Yes, it is a crazy idea. It is Radical. But, everything God has called me to do so far in my life, He has equipped me for and walked me through every step of the way, and even given me the desires of my heart that I didn't know I had.

"Psalm 127: 3-5" Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord...Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!"