Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause. Isaiah 1:17

Thursday, December 30, 2010


A new year is upon us. So many people see a new year as a new chapter to be written in their lives. They often speak of making a difference in their lives. I wonder how many people have considered making a difference in someone else's life. There are many, many ways to do this, but I'm going to focus on one in particular. Every single week of my life, I run into someone who tells me they've always wanted to adopt from foster care. I don't know anyone though who has actually done it afterwards. I've pondered a lot the reasons for this when there are so many children in foster care waiting for families. I think it's fear. It's makes sense--it's a scary journey. You wonder What if a social worker doesn't think I'd make a good parent? What if the child doesn't like me? What if a child we bring into our home hurts another of our children? What if he/she has RAD? What if the trauma they've experienced has ruined them? These are all questions I struggled with before we adopted our son. I felt sure though that it was what we were called to do, so I had to step out in faith. Along the way I found some great resources to help answer a lot of my questions. The best one was this: Resources for Parents Adopting from Foster Care --there you will find statistics like the following: FOSTER CARE STATISTICS * Currently, there are approximately 425,000 children in foster care in the United States. It's estimated that 115,000 are eligible for adoption. *In 2009, about 57,466 children were adopted from foster care. *69% of parents who adopt from foster care are married couples, 31% are single-parent families. *Median age of child in foster care: 8.1 years. *Race/ethnicity of children in foster care: 38% Caucasian, 30% African-American, 22% Hispanic, 10% other. *The average child in foster care goes through three different placements and stays in the system for about 30 months. *Each year, about 26,000 children age out of foster care. As well as a myriad of personal stories from those who have adopted children from foster care. Check it out. If your thighs don't shrink in 2011, it's not that big of a deal in the great scheme of things; consider making a change this coming year that will truly make a difference in someone's life.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


My husband and I were married 10 years before we added children to our family. During that time we established a lot of traditions within our family. Now that we have kids, it’s so much fun to introduce them to our traditions!

Christmas went well. The kids had a great time, even though I was loopy, medicated (due to an allergy-induced sinus infection again), and extremely grumpy! If you’re one of those people who thinks you have to make the chaotic trek to Grandma’s house for Christmas in order for the kids to have an enjoyable Christmas, I assure you it isn’t so. We enjoyed the same quiet Christmas at home that we always have, and the kids loved it. This was CJ’s first Christmas with us, and it was so much fun seeing all his firsts...he’d never heard any of the traditional Christmas songs we love listening to, never baked Christmas cookies, never eaten tea ring, never celebrated advent or the 12 days of Christmas, never been to a Christmas eve service, or driven around for the sole purpose of looking at lights. He loved it all (he kept saying “You‘re the BEST!” every time he participated in one of our traditions), and can’t wait for other celebrations. Especially New Year’s Eve.

My husband and I are very old people inside much younger bodies. We established our New Year’s Eve tradition early on in our marriage, and have never deviated from it. The perfect New Year’s Eve as far as we’re concerned, is to fill the table FULL of yummy goodies (cheese, crackers, cookies, sushi, fruit, veggies, dip, sparkling juice, etc.) , get into our jammies, watch old (or really funny) movies, eat our goodies, and go to bed when we feel like it (Hubby and I are usually just slipping between the sheets in time to share a new year’s kiss)

You wouldn’t think the old fogy New Year’s Eve celebration would appeal to 8-year-olds, but it does. Big time. ZeZe loves it. She’s been telling CJ about it, and he can’t wait. I can’t wait either. Family traditions are the BEST :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peace on earth would be nice, peace in this home? Priceless!

If you're a trauma Mama, you're probably holding your breath this week. As I'm sure you've come to realize, holidays can be tough for the traumatized child. I'm by no means an expert at all, but we've found a few things over the past couple of years to be helpful: 1. The first one we learned very quickly (the hard way), is not to overwhelm trauma children with gifts. I know you want to shower them with presents. I know. I know they may have had very little to call their own in their short lives, and you want to make up for it. I know. You just have to do it carefully. We still shower our kids with gifts...we've just learned not to do it all on Christmas morning! We give gifts to the kids throughout the month of December. It makes a huge difference. 2. We have to keep some semblance of normalcy (or as normal as it gets in this house!) during the hustle and bustle of the holidays. So, being a home school family, we continue to do school, and try to maintain as many routines as possible. It sounds mean to continue to school over Christmas break; I promise it's nicer than it sounds, because they're craving routine. They need it.

3. Even though things are really busy, we make an effort to make sure each child gets one-on-one parent time...even if that means just heading to the store or gas station alone with a parent. Now that you have received the wisdom from a totally inexperienced novice, go read some really really good advice from Essie the Accidental Mommyand Christina at Welcome to My Brain

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sandpaper isn't this rough...

It's been a very rough day. Couple days, actually. I have no words/thoughts that aren't dismal/defeatist, so how about a little Christmas music?

Friday, December 17, 2010

To put you in the mood...

Stress Related Weight Gain...

My pants aren't fitting well at all. I've gained 8 pounds. It's stress. Not my stress, my kid's stress (unfortunately, it still ends up on my hips!). CJ's therapist has been having him talk about the really bad experiences he's had. CJ hates this. He dreads it. He's scared of it. Even thinking about thinking about the bad things makes him look ill. It hurts so much. It's so hard to be soothing, comforting, and confident, when he tells me these awful things and I just want to curl up in a ball and cry. I love my son so much. It hurts so badly to know the pain he's endured. I would do anything to go back and experience the terror and pain for him. But I can't. And sweets abound this time of year, so I end up trying to eat away the pain for both of us.

He is so courageous. I encourage him to talk about the painful things and I explain that it will help him heal. I tell him I'm right here for him when the memories are scary. He believes me. That's huge. And he shares the scary stories, even though it seems almost unbearable for him sometimes to have to recall them. He is so brave.

Today was a tough day for him, and he handled it so well. It was tough for me too, and though I handled it well on the outside, it was a lot harder inside. So I ate a couple Christmas cookies --not great for my IBS or my waistline(when your metabolism is as slow as mine is, even a couple cookies make a bad impact!). Then we went for a walk, which was much better for all of us.

Words cannot express how grateful I am to God that CJ is safe now. That he has the opportunity to heal. My heart breaks for other children who are out there right now, in horrifying situations and in unimaginable pain. Join me in praying for a place for these children heal, and please consider the possibility that you may be that place.

I am utterly in love...

Check out the giveaway for this beautiful piece of art here. What I wouldn't give! It's gorgeous!

Thursday, December 16, 2010


Both my kids surprised me today. Both have moved around a lot and had very few things to call their own , or have been given things and had them taken away (like my son's foster mom, who gave him a bunch of Christmas gifts last year, then didn't allow him to take them to his new home.) So my kids are very possessive of their things. Sharing is often difficult for them. At the same time though, they know firsthand really rough experiences--especially the scary feelings of uncertainty in not having a permanent home. They each received a little money for Christmas this year, and I asked them if they'd like to use some to help others. I was awestruck and delighted when they both enthusiastically agreed. CJ wants to give some of his money to the shelter where we got Mercy, while ZeZe wants to donate some of hers to help people in Haiti.

There are creatures hurting all over this world. I know this isn't a great financial time for anyone right now, but if you have some money to spare, I encourage you to use to it help others. You don't have to give hundreds. If you have 5, 10, 15, or 20 dollars, it can make a difference. I'm sure you can readily think of ways to use your money for others. In case you're having a bit of trouble coming up with ideas, here are a few:

1. Ask your church or other religious organization for ways you can help those in need in your community.

2. Donate to your local animal shelter. They don't just need your money; donate your time volunteering, blankets, food, or toys.

3. Consider sponsoring a child or giving a one time donation to Compassion International.

4. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is a great place to help.

5. The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption is a wonderful organization that helps to bring foster children together with adoptive families.

I don't want to overwhelm you with the world's needs, I just want to show you a couple ways to help, so I'll stop there. The needs of the world are great, and you are small; but if we all pitch in together, we can make a difference.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What do you do when it's dark and blustery?


...you can curl up on the couch:

...you can bake cookies:

...you can play inside until your room is a disaster:

...you can bake more cookies:

...you can stare at the pretty lights on the Christmas tree:

...you could curl up in the chair for a nap:

...you can thank God for the opportunity to be inside surrounded by critters and kids when the weather is crummy :)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


This post by Jennifer at The Least Complicated nails it. Go read it. Seriously, she says it better than I ever could have.

Parenting children who have experienced trauma becomes your new norm when you're in the midst of it, but at the outset of adoption, many people expect it to be all unicorns and rainbows. Few understand the reality of what they may face. I'm not trying to scare anyone away from adoption. Just because something is difficult, doesn't mean it isn't amazing and worth it. God doesn't usually call us to what's easy and comfortable.

It's also amazing the things you discover you can deal with. The other night, I was telling my husband about a woman who's blog I follow:

Me: "I really admire her. Her kids have some significant issues, and she's always there for them, always determined to help them heal. I'm not sure I could do it. I mean we're talking peeing in retaliation, becoming violent during unbelievable meltdowns, pathological lying, stealing--seriously, I don't know how she does it."

Hubby: *stares at me, with odd look* "Now name something we haven't dealt with in our very home."

Me: "Uh, yeah, but her kids are different. Seriously, it sounds worse."

The only difference is that my kids are mine, and I love them. God has brought us together, and he's equipped us for the job. Of course it helps too, that I've seen a lot of healing in my kids. Particularly with ZeZe, who has come such a long way in the past 2 years. That helps a lot too; that experience helps me to know there's a light at the end of the tunnel with CJ.

Adoption isn't unicorns and rainbows. It's hard and it's amazing. I would take the gritty truth of it over rainbows and unicorns any day (well, most days, anyway!). When you've been through hell with your kid, and you come out on the other side together, it creates a bond like no other.

Monday, December 13, 2010

163 Million Minus One...

I'm sure you've heard the statistic that there are 163 million orphans in the world. Well, now there are 163 million....minus one :) CJ's adoption was finalized via telephone on November 22nd, 2010. He now has a family forever. No more shifting from home to home. No more trauma. Now he can be on a path to healing and come to know security. Please pray for all of us as he learns what forever means. Yes this post is late. Life has been overwhelming. Parenting children who have been traumatized is a lot different than parenting children who have not. The past couple months, parenting CJ has required of me nearly all of my time (including my blogging time!)...and the rest of my time has been devoted to making sure ZeZe doesn't get lost in the shuffle! We've made some progress lately (or at least I think so) so I'm optimistic that maybe I'll be able to sneak in a little blogging time in the coming weeks.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Adoption is beautiful, but ugly attitudes persist...even among adoptive parents.

Adoption is beautiful. It doesn't matter if that child is brown, white, African, American, Guatemalan, Chinese, etc. A child is a child is a child, and when a child is in need, it's so beautiful when God meets that need with a family. What's not so beautiful are some of the ugly attitudes about adoption. Now, I just want to preface what I'm about to say with the fact that I have absolutely nothing against international adoption--I think international adoption is wonderful, and if God so leads our family, we will enthusiastically pursue international adoption at some point. Now that the disclaimer is over, I have to say, I am heartily sick of the prevailing attitude among adoptive/potential adoptive parents that international adoption is somehow a superior form of adoption over domestic, because children domestically supposedly aren't in need. It makes me quite angry when I hear proponents of international adoption say that the children in US foster care don't experience real need the way children in other countries do. I think this view is bred largely of ignorance. Children in foster care have real need. Children are 11 times more likely to be abused in State care than they are in their own homes. So much sexual abuse takes place in foster homes, as victims come into homes unequipped to deal with their needs and then mimic the things done to them towards other children. It's hard to get actual statistics, as not many children are willing to talk about sexual abuse they've experienced, but it does appear that few children escape foster unscathed by sexual abuse. Nationwide, an estimated 30,000 adolescents age out of the foster care system each year. According to the Child Welfare League of America, 25 percent become homeless, 56 percent are unemployed, 27 percent of male children end up in jail. In fact, 80 percent of prison inmates have been through the foster care system. There are wonderful foster parents out there. There are also abusive and neglectful ones. So please don't tell me that the needs of all the children in foster care are being met, so we shouldn't waste resources helping them. I personally know children who have suffered physical abuse, medical neglect, and sexual abuse while in foster care (for the record, I also know children who were loved and treated quite well in foster care, I just know far fewer of them). When a child is not able to receive basic medical care, enough food to eat, or have a safe place to sleep at night, their basic needs are NOT being met. So there are holes all over the argument that US adoption isn't as important as international adoption. This though, I really think is secondary to the most important motive in adopting any child (anywhere in the world) Giving a child a family--a place to be loved and cherished, a home. That is the most important issue. And there are children all over the world, from your very own city to the other side of the planet with this need. You either have a passion to help children in need, or you don't. If you do, you'll advocate for children all over the planet, not just from where you assume (and in your opinion) the most need exists. God told us to care for orphans. Period. He didn't include a global map with push pins showing us where the most important orphans reside. They're all important. Every last one. So many beautiful ways to show God's love to the world. The whole world.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Yep, I'm tired. Wanna make something of it?

This cartoon is my life right now. Even though I have 2 kids, it perfectly depicts my life (my 2 can feel like 4 sometimes, and I have more than double the dogs shown in it anyway!) Lately I've been really hard on myself. I'm really tired. Stressed out. Whiny. I keep telling myself to buck up, pull it together and be the fantastic mom I always knew I would be. Then the other night I was reading a blog where a woman mentioned that she had 6 kids in 6 years. I chuckled to myself and thought "I hear you. I had 2 kids in under 2 years!" Then I realized: I had TWO kids. In UNDER TWO years. No wonder I'm tired!! 1 year and 9 months after bringing home our daughter, we brought home our son. Parenting older children is a little different than parenting a newborn. It's like learning how to swim by being thrown in the deep end of the pool. So yeah, I'm ALLOWED to be tired. I've been a mom for only 2 years. It's ridiculous to think I'd have this motherhood thing down perfectly. My kids are happy, clean, well fed, educated, and secure. That's something to be happy about, rather than looking at all my failings. It's been a difficult year to boot. My hubby was gone to the Middle East for the first 1/2 of the year. Then as soon as he came home, we met, and brought home our 8-year-old son. We've faced a myriad of problems in getting our son the healthcare he needs, and we've had to deal with a lot of bureaucrats along the way. Under normal circumstances, getting used to parenting (and homeschooling!) 2 kids at once would be tough, but when you add the other stressors, I think I'm allowed to be tired! The problem is, when you adopt, there are a lot of people watching you. Of course there are the social workers, that's not such a big deal. The big deal is all the people you know. Many are watching because they're contemplating adoption, and some are watching out of curiosity concerning this whole adoption thing. Unfortunately, some are also watching and waiting for you to fall flat on your face, so they can say "I told you so!" That's a lot of pressure on an adoptive family who are trying to wade through issues of attachment and adjustment. I feel like I always have to have a giant smile on my face and tell everyone how incredibly wonderful EVERYTHING is. That's just not true. I LOVE my kids, but adopting older children (and by older, I'm referring to any child older than newborn) is very challenging at times. I'm okay with that. I know God has called me to this. I guess my fear is that other people aren't okay with it. I'm worried someone will see how hard this is sometimes and decide not to help a hurting child. I'm scared people who are unfamiliar with adoption, when they see our family's imperfections, will blame it all on adoption, and wag their tongues about it. I hate that when I'm having a rough day sometimes, I find out someone's been telling other people that I clearly got in over my head. I fear that if my family doesn't appear perfect, that people who have been looking for a reason to treat my children differently, will pounce on it. We're doing okay though. My kids are happy. They're healthy. They enjoy life. I enjoy them. Yeah, I'm tired. What mom isn't? No, they're not always perfectly behaved. What child is? So I've decided to care less about what other people think. If someone decides not to adopt because it holds challenges, then I would have to say their heart isn't in the right place to do so anyway. If someone is judging that I'm in over my head or I wasn't cut out for motherhood because I'm tired and overwhelmed at times, they can go...well, never mind, but suffice to say, despite my love for animals, it applies to the horse they rode in on too. And if someone decides to treat my children poorly, they should think twice, because this Mama Bear isn't in the mood to take prisoners right now. Tongues can wag until they fall off. I've decided I don't care anymore. I love my family, and I'm so happy with the way it is. Before the beginning of time, God chose these children as mine, and me for their Mama. That's good enough for me. I may be tired, but I'm happy. The only thing I need right now is encouragement...not wagging tongues. Hi, I'm Laura. I'm tired, overwhelmed, I occasionally totally blow it in motherhood, and I'm completely imperfect. But it's okay. God's working amazing things in my life and the lives of my family members. He is good. All the time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Long time, no blog. I guess that's what happens when you meet and bring home your 8-year-old son. The past few weeks have been a wild ride. We've had some wonderful times and some not so wonderful times. Daily I have felt immensely blessed to be chosen by God as the mother to both my children. Daily I have questioned my abilities as a mother. My hubby and I have been married for over 11 years. We have weathered some tough storms. We've spent long periods of time apart due to the military. Handling crises doing those periods of aloneness really shored up my confidence. Prior to motherhood, I would have described myself as a confident woman who could handle nearly anything thrown at her. Motherhood is...humbling. I absolutely cannot handle it on my own, and daily I question whether I was meant to be a mom. The more I think about it, the more I think that is the number one reason God decided to make me a mother...instantly, to older children who are filled with pain and grief at that! So many days I am at a complete loss as to how to handle certain situations. I can NOT do this on my own. I am a very stubborn woman. I am always looking for ways to be more self sufficient. Meanwhile God is always throwing things my way that defy self sufficiency. There has certainly been a pattern. God has given me something I cannot handle on my own, I turn to him for help, then once the crisis has passed, I've said, "Hey, I made it through. See, I can handle anything!" Until now. Now God has given me something that won't end. It's daily. Daily I find that I must seek him, because there's absolutely no way the challenges will end. Seeing as how my children will (hopefully) outlive me by quite a bit, I will daily be seeking him for guidance in my relationships with them for the rest of my life! I knew children would be a blessing in my life when I felt God's call to motherhood. I had no idea though how much of a blessing and challenge it would be in my relationship with God. I still struggle so much with trying to go it alone. There are many times when I'm feeling hopeless and in despair because I know that I'm not up to the task, and I forget the world isn't on my shoulders; it's in the palms of his hands. I am so grateful that he doesn't give up on this stubborn, hard hearted woman, but keeps showing me his love every single day. Going into motherhood, I never pictured that the more my children would lean on me and look to me, the more I would find myself looking to and leaning on my heavenly father. He didn't make me a mom just because I wanted it, or my children needed it; one of the reasons he did it is because I needed motherhood to mold me into the person he wants me to be. It's one of parenthood's greatest surprises.

Monday, August 2, 2010

At least JESUS loves the little children...

Okay, so you thought yesterday's statistic was unbelievable? Try this one on for size: within the same findings... "The data showed that parents are willing to pay an average of $16,000 more in finalization costs for a girl as opposed to a boy, says Yariv—and $38,000 more for a non-African-American baby than for an African-American baby." The other night in bed I mentioned something about transracial adoptive parenting, and my dear hubby said "I've never really considered myself a transracial adoptive parent. I just see myself as ZeZe's Papa." of course, I reminded him that's because he doesn't do her hair! In all seriousness I totally understand what he means. When the ones you love have a different shade of skin, that's all it is. My hubby's skin is darker than mine (he's multiracial) and our daughter's skin is darker than his. It's pigment. Nothing more. Granted, it's beautiful pigment (I often feel stabs of jealousy as I compare my morgue white skin to the tawny tan of my hubby or the mocha brown of my daughter) but merely a shade of skin. Sometimes when I'm reading something historical (or sadly not so historical) about a shade of skin or ancestry dividing people, driving people to murder and war and abominations, I look at my daughter and wonder how it's even possible. People often tease me that I have a mini me. ZeZe is so much like me it's scary. We tend to think the same way, behave the same way...we just don't look the same way. I can assure you though, if you've ever had any doubts, that difference in human beings is merely skin deep. Those within the human race share common mannerisms, thoughts, and behaviours with others who look nothing like them. So it boggles my mind and breaks my heart when I read that a brown child is less desired than a white one . A child is a child is a child. White, brown...and any beautiful shade in between.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Gender Bias

"The data showed that parents are willing to pay an average of $16,000 more in finalization costs for a girl as opposed to a boy." Did your jaw just drop? Mine did when I read that. It was included in the findings of a team of economists from the California Institute of Technology, the London School of Economics, and New York University. Lately gender bias in adoption has been on my mind. Probably because we're adopting a little boy. Not many people seek to adopt a male child--according to the statistics I've read, 70-90% of American potential adoptive parents request a female. In the foster care system things are no better than in the world of private adoption: only 36% of children chosen for adoption from foster care are boys. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around this. I have fortunately been blessed to be surrounded by families who have adopted boys, but I am keenly aware that this is not the norm. I've read articles on gender selection and abortion, as well as gender selection and conception, and I haven't seen the same trend in either--it appears to be exclusive to adoption. Perhaps it has something to do with the antiquated notion that biological sons must carry on the "family name." I suppose one possibility is that women tend to be the movers and shakers in the adoption process (husbands are usually more passive regarding adoption), and many dream of raising a daughter. I know that personally, while I have always wanted both boys and girls, if I was told I got only one shot at it, I would have chosen a girl. As I explained to my husband when we questioned me on this, I told him, "Look, as a mom you only get your boy until he gets married, then his wife's family gets first dibs on every visit. A girl is yours forever." So I can possibly understand it from that standpoint (for the record though, we put no gender preference when we first adopted, we just happened to have a girl) I suppose another explanation could be that many people perceive boys to be more difficult to raise. Having a daughter and dealing daily high drama, I can only imagine these people have never been around girl children. I am anticipating the son we are expecting soon can only be easier to raise than our fussy, particular, drama queen of a daughter (whom I adore, if you happened to take that last sentence the wrong way!) Whatever the reason for the gender bias, I'm so glad we're getting a son. While we didn't put any gender preference into our home study, I was secretly hoping for a boy, and my husband was so excited when he found out we were having a son, that I thought he might spontaneously combust! I can feel the amazing love well within me for my son as well as that surge of protective mama bear inside me, and it confirms what I already knew: sons are every bit the amazing blessing that daughters are.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My Lawn Mower...

This is my lawn mower. And no, I'm not Amish. You're probably laughing at me now. I don't have anything against technology, I just don't think that "new' and "advanced" necessarily translates to "better". Why do I like the traditional reel mower over a noisy, obnoxious, allergen spreading gas powered mower? (whoops, a little bias might have slipped through there) First of all, it's so much better for my allergies. The lawn can be mowed without me suffering asthma attacks, and having my eyes swell halfway closed for 2 days afterward. Second of all, it is so quiet. For some of us, noise can be quite awful, so if you're like me and abhor a racket, this feature is worth a million bucks. Third, it's better for your grass. Fourth, it's really easy to start! (something not to be said for our previous icky gas mower) I know we often take for granted many things in society that are considered necessities, but aren't particularly good for you. No one has stopped to think about what people did before these things were invented. Take for example, diapers. Most people automatically use disposables, without really thinking over the issue. They assume that it's the better, more convenient option. And I admit, there is convenience that comes with disposable diapers, but there's also a cost. That cost is a child who has to live in plastic and is exposed to hormone disrupting chemicals. Not to mention those things piling up in landfills. All this is also true of disposable menstrual products (especially the exposure to dangerous chemicals like dioxin) Convenience comes at an actual cost too. If you compare the cost of reusable products (be they diapers, menstrual protection, grocery bags, water bottles, napkins, etc.) versus their disposable counterparts, the reusable ones come out the clear winners. The quality of the items and enjoyment of use is also exponentially increased. There's a whole different life perspective you have when you start to use reusable items. You slow down and take your time. It feels like you get more out of everything, because you're slowing down to enjoy life. Sometimes we don't need new and improved...on occasion it's the right idea the first time.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

147 Million

Do you know that there are 147 million orphans in the world? In James (1:27)*, God instructs us to care for these orphans. So what do you think their greatest need is? A meal, sponsorship, a short term missions group coming in and sharing the love of Christ? All very good. But what do you think the greatest earthly need an orphan has is? It has to be the love of a parent. I once asked a young woman who was adopted when she was 13 if she would consider adopting when she became an adult. She replied "Of course. How could I not? I know what it feels like to be in limbo. To wonder if anyone will love you, and wonder if you'll ever have anyone to call Mom and Dad." I feel sick to my stomach to consider that feeling. To not not have the security and guidance of loving parents. My heart goes out to all the orphans in the world. What does an orphan look like? An orphan may be a child in a third world country, whose parents have died, and they have little to eat each day. An orphan may be a child right here in the US, for whom it has been determined, that their parents cannot care for them. An orphan may be 1 day old, or 18 years old. They may be white, brown, American, foreign, disabled, healthy--an orphan can look like any child in the world. What does an adoptive family look like? They might be in their 20’s 40’s or even 60’s. They may have no biological children, or a quiver full of bio kids. They might be poor or wealthy. They look exactly like you and me. The one thing I know about them, is that they are is past excuses. Many Christians tell me they would love to adopt, but….then come the excuses. One of the biggest I hear is that of finances. Yep, it’s overwhelming when you look at the cost. That’s when it time to step out in faith, confident that your heavenly father owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Many adoptive parents refer to the cost as “ransom”. They are not “paying” for a child, they are ransoming their child. This is where the church needs to step up and help with the ransom for these beloved children. Orphans should be one of the missions of each and every church. They should also be a big priority for each and every Christian. Why? God told us so. What can you do? You could bring this need before your church. Personally, you could look for little ways to sacrifice (like going on a fast food fast) and consider giving to a family who is scrambling to get together the ransom bring home a fatherless child to shower in love as beloved sons and daughters. Don’t know any families? Check this wonderful family out: http://amomentcherished.blogspot.com/p/our-journey-to-ethiopia.html Finally, you could consider bringing an orphan into your home as a part of your family. Sounds big, doesn’t it? That’s exactly what our heavenly father did for each of us. Even if you only read the first 2 sentences of my blog post, you are without excuse. I told you the problem (147 million orphans) and God’s solution (we are to care for them). So what are you going to do about it? "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' 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’” Matthew 25:34-40 *James 1:27 is personally very important to me, but God's command to care for the orphans and His love for them is evident througout scripture...don't believe me? Check out: Exodus 22:22, Deuteronomy 10:18, Deuteronomy 14:29, Deuteronomy 16:11, Deuteronomy 24:17, Deuteronomy 26:12, Deuteronomy 26:13, Deuteronomy 26:19, Job 29:12, Psalm 10:14, Psalm 10:18, Psalm 68:5, Psalm 82:3, Psalm 146:9, Proverbs 23:10, Isaiah 1:17, Jeremiah 7:6, Jeremiah 22:3, Jeremiah 49:11, Zechariah 7:10, Malachi 3:5, Hosea 14:3--this is by no means an exhaustive list, it's just the passages I've run into in the past few months during my daily bible reading.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Father's Day

You might think this post is tad late. Father’s Day has passed for the rest of the world, but not for our family. My husband doesn’t return home until July, and we’re saving Father’s Day until then. So Father’s Day has been on my mind a lot lately. Particularly since I’ve been reading through the bible this year. This is the first time in my life that I’ve made a commitment to read the whole bible through in a year. One of the interesting things about reading the bible this way, is that you notice themes running throughout scripture. One of the themes that has really popped out to me is God’s care for the fatherless. I honestly had no idea before I started reading the bible all the way through, but over and over throughout scripture, God reminds his people to care for the fatherless, and reminds the fatherless, that he will care for them. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s explicitly mentioned over and over: Exodus 22:22 Deuteronomy 10:18 Deuteronomy 14:29 Deuteronomy 16:11 Deuteronomy 24:17 Deuteronomy 26:12 Deuteronomy 26:13 Deuteronomy 26:19 Job 29:12 Psalm 10:14 Psalm 10:18 Psalm 68:5 Psalm 82:3 Psalm 146:9 Proverbs 23:10 Isaiah 1:17 Jeremiah 7:6 Jeremiah 22:3 Jeremiah 49:11 Zechariah 7:10 Malachi 3:5 Hosea 14:3 James 1:27 (btw, I’ve also noticed that when his people are being reprimanded by his prophets for heinous behaviour, not caring for the fatherless is mentioned over and over as one of their awful sins.) My husband has a zeal for following God. He truly loves God and desires to follow his commands. I know it’s largely because of this that he desires to care for the fatherless in the most amazing way possible: to be an earthly father to them and introduce them to their heavenly father. This is not a duty for him; it is his pleasure, his joy, and one of his very life’s missions. Recently my daughter said to me : “I didn’t know God before I came to you. I went to church, and I knew about him, but I didn’t know God until I came to you, and you read me the bible and prayed with me.” I cannot imagine anything more meaningful in this life than introducing “the least of these” to the king of the universe. I am so grateful to be married to a man who’s passion is Christ, and who truly lives it out by taking on the mission of caring for the fatherless.

Coming soon to a blog near you...

Due to illness for most of June, and chronic ocular migraines, my writing/computer time/internet/blogging has been pretty much non existent. I’m healthy right now though, and I’m trying to persist on the computer despite the ocular migraines. So keep an eye out, my brain’s been working, even if the rest of me hasn’t, so there should be some new blog posts coming soon! ;)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Box

Me: "You know what your problem is? You never think outside the box!" Hubby: "Well, you know what your problem is? You HATE the box! You're nowhere near the box! The box doesn't even EXIST as far as you're concerned! THAT'S what YOUR problem is!" It’s true, I’ve never been good with the box. I don’t think in it, and I don’t fit in it. Being unconventional is just who I am, so it doesn’t bother me much, but it can be heart breakingly lonely at times. Most of my life I’ve been blessed to have a few kindred spirits around to make life more full of joy, and far from lonely. Unfortunately, when I took a more unconventional path to motherhood, loneliness really struck. Most women have babies. Cute, adorable little bottle sucking babies. They meet other moms-to-be and new moms and join mommy groups, and end up with an amazing support systems. Being a new mommy to a 6 1/2-year-old is without such opportunities. You’re definitely far outside the new mommy box, and no one knows what to do with you. You’re tired, emotionally worn out, dealing with a host of issues as you bond as a family, and there is virtually no one to lean on. New Mommies are dealing with breastfeeding, colic, and diapers. They’re looking for other mothers dealing with the same issues. Mother’s of school age children are already tightly part of cliques formed when their wee ones were born. They don’t know what to do with a woman who is facing motherhood for the first time in her life--to a school aged child at that. Somehow I knew. Before I ever became a mother, I would see Mommy groups advertised in our church bulletin, see face book groups come together and find times to meet, watch groups of moms at the park, and I longed to be a part of them. But even then, even before children, a small voice reminded me that probably would never be me. I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life wishing I were more conventional. Wishing I could get in the box with everyone else (even though I’m a little claustrophobic at the very thought!) Sometimes you just want to belong. I guess the upside of this experience, is that I’ve learned to be more considerate of people who don’t belong. It’s made my heart ache for orphans who have no one permanent in their lives. It has filled me with admiration for single mothers. It has given me sympathy for single people in churches where the congregation is mostly neatly paired off into couples. The occasional experiences where I have been included where I don’t belong have meant so much to me. The people who have taken the time to ask me to dinner over the years when my husband has been deployed have a special place in my heart. Inviting half of a couple to a dinner party isn’t really the norm. You really have to think outside the box to reach out to someone dissimilar to you. We like to surround ourselves with the familiar. Couples without children hang out with other couples who don’t have children. Singles hang out with singles. Couples with young children spend times with couples with young children. Empty nesters tend to veer to other empty nesters. It’s comfortable and familiar. I imagine though, that our experiences would be so much richer if we branched out to include those who “don’t belong” in our circles. To enjoy conversation and spending time with people from all walks of life is an adventure, and broadens our perspectives and thoughts. So what holds us back? Comfort? I love mac and cheese (well, mac and vegan cheese substitute at any rate) it’s a great comfort, but I don’t eat it every night of the week. Variety is good …and healthy!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Are you ever going to have a BABY?

“Are you ever going to have a baby?” I get this question from a lot of people--including my own daughter. Some people have even asked me if I have something against babies! It probably won’t surprise you that I don’t mind that question a bit, because it opens the door for me to talk about something I’m very passionate about. Since why we chose to adopt an older child is a very common question for our family, I’m going to attempt to answer it here. When hubby and I actively began the adoption process, we truly felt comfortable opening our home and hearts to a child of any age. Through the church, we have ministered to children from the age of newborn through high school. We love kids. Each and every age is so amazing. At the same time, we also decided to leave the infants for infertile people, and decided that if we wanted a baby, we’d go the old fashioned route (though due to chronic physical issues, pregnancy is not a very appealing option for me) People who are seeking to adopt are usually in 1 of 2 categories: they are passionate about orphans, or it’s plan B (conception being plan A) I’m not knocking plan B-- I firmly believe our plan B is often God’s plan A J But I’m sure you can understand how a couple hoping to conceive would desire to adopt an infant, and more often than not, an infant who looks like them (not every family enjoys being a walking billboard for adoption) So we figured we’d leave the babies for those who need them. We’ve since changed our minds on that matter--as we’ve received several e-mails begging for adoptive parents for domestic minority infant adoption. Our hearts go towards the need, so now that we know the need is there too, it's possible we may end up with a baby in a couple years, should God lead us in that direction. But I digress. Adopting an older child certainly isn’t the easiest route, but it may well be the most rewarding and satisfying. Believe it or not, a lot of people haven’t been incredibly supportive of our decision, even pastors have questioned our choice, informing us (now mind you, not even ONE of the people warning us have ever been an adoptive parent) that “these kids have problems” and “how would you know how to parent an older child when you’ve never parented an infant?” My answer to the first is that we all have problems, and thank God he doesn’t avoid adopting us because we have “problems”! My answer to the second objection is this: by the grace of God. It saddens me that people don’t think that older children deserve the same loving home an infant does. That’s what it comes down to really. People say they want to see older children in loving homes… many just don’t want it to be their home or the home of someone they love. Some people even go so far as to blame the child (though no one has been brave enough to do this to my face) saying that obviously there’s something wrong with the kids whose parents aren’t willing to parent them. I assure you, it’s not the fault of the child if their parent makes the choice to love illegal drugs instead of their baby. It’s a not child’s fault if their parent chooses to beat them, or molest them. It’s not the child’s fault when a parent chooses not to feed them or supervise them, or provide them with clothing and shelter. Do some of these kids have “problems”? Well, of course! Are these “problems” insurmountable? Well, I don’t know. Is anything insurmountable with the power of God? God has blessed my family abundantly. He hasn’t given us a great deal of monetary wealth, but he has given us a wealth of love and compassion. That is the answer to why we have chosen to adopt older children. This is a family built on love, and we are so excited to share that love with the children God has appointed to our family!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Freedom Is Not Free By Kelly Strong I watched the flag pass by one day. It fluttered in the breeze. A young Marine saluted it, and then he stood at ease. I looked at him in uniform So young, so tall, so proud, He'd stand out in any crowd. I thought how many men like him Had fallen through the years. How many died on foreign soil? How many mothers' tears? How many pilots' planes shot down? How many died at sea? How many foxholes were soldiers' graves? No, freedom isn't free. I heard the sound of TAPS one night, When everything was still I listened to the bugler play And felt a sudden chill. I wondered just how many times That TAPS had meant "Amen," When a flag had draped a coffin Of a brother or a friend. I thought of all the children, Of the mothers and the wives, Of fathers, sons and husbands With interrupted lives. I thought about a graveyard At the bottom of the sea Of unmarked graves in Arlington. No, freedom isn't free. ________________________________________ Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

Thursday, May 27, 2010

One Tough Cookie?

I’m not Wonder Woman. I’m sure this doesn’t shock you. It kinda shocks me, I guess. Today someone I don’t know offered to do something very kind for me to help me out at their own time and expense. They offered via e-mail, and I haven’t responded yet. It’s something I really need help with, yet, it’s so hard to accept the help. I’m very touched that it was offered, and it means a lot. I don’t fear owing this person anything. I help other people all the time. I insist on helping others often. So why is this so hard for me? I have spent my days during this deployment, alternating between “I can do this. I can do this. I can do this.” and “God, I can’t do this, help me!” So when help comes along, you’d think I’d pounce on it gratefully. I am grateful, by the way. I am deeply touched when anyone offers to help me or give me words of encouragement. It’s just hard to admit I need the help. I guess it’s because we chose this. Serving our country is important to our family, so we chose to be put through this. I guess part of me feels like when you make your bed, you’re supposed to lie in it and like it. Sort of like the first couple of rough months after our daughter came home to us. I felt like I was in waaaaaaay over my head, yet when people asked how I was doing or if I needed help, I just pasted a smile on my face and told them everything was fine. After all, I chose my child, so I should be able to handle it, right? It’s kind of funny: in these situations, I’ve begged God for help, but when it’s been offered, I’ve refused. I’ve been surrounded by wonderful people who have offered to serve me in kindness, and I cannot accept it joyfully as the gift it is. I feel ashamed when I have to accept help. A bit of it is that when someone vaguely offers to help if you need anything, you don’t know if they’re on the level, or just trying to be nice. Most of it though is, I wonder how fair it is for me to sign up for a challenging life, then lean on others when the going gets tough. After all, those other people didn’t sign up for this. I believe God has ordained all things. He has called my husband to a job that make my life very challenging at times. So does that mean that because God has directed our life, that I should be perfectly equipped to deal with it without asking for help, or does it mean that he will just surround me with the help I need as I need it? I gotta say, I don’t feel all that equipped to handle things all on my own. But I still feel bad reaching out for help. Kinda twisted, huh?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

You Have No Idea What You're In For!

“You have no idea what you’re in for.” That was one of the responses I received when I shared the happy news of the newest addition to our family--an 8-year-old boy we’ve been matched with for adoption. Actually, I do have an inkling of what we’re in for: we adopted our daughter when she was 6 ½. I know a child who has had to be separated from their biological family for their own health and safety, then placed in a foster home, isn’t going to come through these circumstances unscathed. I know that adoption is hard. Taking a wounded child, and making them a part of your family is challenging. It is also infinitely rewarding. I have a wonderful life, and I love it, but it’s not an easy life. God has not seen fit to give me an easy life, and I praise Him for that. When I face challenges, and He brings me through them, I am reminded of His great love for me. It blows me away. I honestly had no idea what I was in for when we adopted our daughter. While I never once regretted our decision, I often asked God if he was sure I was up to the task! He reminded me that I’m not. It’s only through him that I’m able to be the parent my daughter needs. Now I see my amazing, beautiful, smart, sassy daughter who loves the Lord, and I think, while I never would have pictured the difficulties, I also never would have pictured that God would give me such an amazing child. I never anticipated that I would love her this much, that she would be such a part of me, and that I would be such a part of her. Don’t get me wrong, I pictured parenthood as being amazing, I just didn’t know it would be this amazing! When I think about it, really, I had no idea what I was getting into when I made most of the decisions I’ve made in life (like getting married at 18!!), but God has taken me through difficult circumstances, and strengthened my relationship with him and with my loved ones in the process. His ways are not our ways. Praise God! My ways would be easy, insipid, and comfortable. Instead of letting me settle for what I wanted, God gave me so much more. I feel like all I wanted was a silver plated necklace, and he gave me a palace full of every kind of jewel and precious metal you could imagine. Not to mention the adventure! He’s also given me amazing love. At our wedding, we had a passage from Song of Solomon read. Part of it reads “Many waters cannot quench love, nor can floods drown it.” Through the circumstances of my life, God has helped me to live and know that passage better. Through the difficult times, our family has grown in love for one another to an unfathomable level. His love for me is so much more apparent. If God had given me exactly what I thought I wanted, I would have become content to sit in a mud puddle. I cried because he didn’t give me what I wanted, not realizing during the difficult times that God was withholding from me the mud, to hand me a castle. So nope, I have no idea what I’m in for. Neither do you. Praise God! He surprises us with His great love and beautiful grace every single day!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Dog is my Co-pilot... and gift from God above

It saddens me so much when I contemplate the plight of dogs and cats in shelters every day. I know, it’s a big shocker that the woman who wants to find a home for every orphan in the world wishes every dog and cat could have a home too. Some people call me a softie, others ‘the crazy dog lady’ others just call me crazy. Our family has 6 pets, and 5 of them are rescues. I can see how some people would think it’s a tad odd. It’s a lot of work, and a lot of expense, but most of all it is a lot of joy. You see, I’m not some emotional nut who can’t help herself. I feel that it’s a calling from God. A lot of people scoff at the time, expense, and effort I’ve gone to in helping mere animals when abortion and poverty exist in the world. But a sin is a sin--whether it’s discarding the animals God has entrusted to our care, or the continued death of the unborn through abortion. God has laid the plight of these animals on my heart, and I’m going to fight for them, whatever evils exist in the world that someone else may deem a more worthy cause. If you’ve had the joy of sharing your life with a dog, you know what I’m talking about when I say dogs are special. We enjoy each and every member of our 5 dog pack. People scratch their heads at that--so many think that to have more than 1 dog is redundant. I assure you, it is not! They are each so different, and you can form such amazing relationships with them. One of things I find most amazing about God’s love for us is the existence of the dog. He didn’t need to give us dogs, but he loves us so much, that he did any way. Dogs are amazing for our health and well being. I have been through many agonizingly lonely periods in my life. If it hadn’t been for the canine companions God placed in my life during those difficult times, I don’t know how I would have gotten through. Their personalities and capabilities are absolutely astounding. I enjoy their companionship so much. I also appreciate all the things they do for me (aside from plowing through bags of food and vet bills!) They provide me a much needed source of protection, as my hubby, by the nature of his job, is often away. They encourage me to get out and exercise. They eased my daughter’s transition into our household (as I imagine they will do for our son when he joins us in a couple months). They provide me with much entertainment and joy. They watch my daughter when we’re at the park, and don’t allow strange dogs/people near her when she’s out of my reach. Okay, you’re thinking, so get a dog, not 5! Well, that’s where the calling from God part comes in. He gave us these amazing creatures, and told us to take care of them. We in turn, allowed them to breed indiscriminately, then abandoned the ones couldn’t care for. The pet overpopulation problem is so out of control, that many dogs, while not intentionally so, are basically bred to be killed. God gave me a desire to care for these animals and help them. So that’s what I’m doing. Not everyone can keep up with and enjoy several dogs, but he designed me with these abilities and desires. Maybe God has laid a different cause on your heart. Maybe he’s given you several (as he has for our family) That’s great! He’s made us all so different, each with different gifts and purposes. Don’t assume though, that your cause is somehow more important than mine; when God lays something on your heart, you should give it your all no matter what it is.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm adopted

I’m adopted. The only parents I’ve ever known are the ones who conceived me, yet I assure you, I’m adopted. God has adopted me as his daughter. My adoption is something I never contemplated very much until I became an adoptive parent myself. I “get” my adoption now, in so many ways I never did before. Becoming an adoptive parent has revealed so many things to me that I never saw before. It’s like I can view my relationship with my heavenly father from angles, that were previously unavailable to me. So many times I just sit back and say “wow” --other times I’m completely speechless. It’s hard to put much of it in words, but I’m going to do my best. Forgive me if these thoughts seem a little random and disorganized. I’ve always been aware that I am a daughter of God, but I admit I‘ve struggled with assurance of my salvation. I think that a lot of that is that, while I contemplated being a daughter of God I didn’t consider my adoption much. Adoption is CHOOSING a person to be your own child. My daughter isn’t just my daughter, she is my CHOSEN daughter. I chose to be HER parent, come what may. God chose me. There’s an amazing commitment there when you think about it. I wasn’t thrust upon him; God chose to be my father. He picked me as his, and he will never let me go. One of my favourite songs is You Never Let Go by Matt Redman. The chorus says: Oh no, You never let go Through the calm and through the storm Oh no, You never let go In every high and every low Oh no, You never let go Lord, You never let go of me Never did this become more real to me until I became an adoptive parent and realized, I was choosing this child as mine, and that I would love her faithfully forever--no matter what. When my daughter rejects me at times, it gives me a small look into how God feels when I reject him. Here he plucked me from misery, he shows me the path of righteousness, and I often say no thanks--I’d rather something less. It’s almost unfathomable until you see it in action as a parent. I remember one very difficult evening with my daughter shortly after her arrival to our home. She was having an awful fit--kicking, hitting, and spewing terrible hateful words at me. I just grabbed her and held her. I rocked her, and every time she said she hated me, I said “I love you. Papa loves you. God loves you. Even if you hate me, I will never stop loving you.” after a while, she stopped screaming that she hated me, and started crying and saying “Don’t love me! Stop it! I don’t want you to love me! I won’t let you love me! Please don’t love me!” I just kept reassuring her of my love for her. Eventually through her tears she said she loved me and needed my love. Later, as I reflected on that difficult evening, I could hardly believe it. Here I was offering her love, and she begged me not to love her!! It sounds rather ridiculous, doesn’t it? But how many times does our heavenly Father pour his love out to us, only to have us reject him! And he is always faithful to me. I didn’t birth my child from my womb. I birthed her from my very soul. That probably sounds rather dramatic, and it is. When you take a wounded person and claim them as your own, so many tears and prayers go into the process. It gives me a small window at times (granted, a very small window!) of what it must be like for God to take us, and though we may be absolutely wounded and utterly shattered, he brings us into his family to become beloved sons and daughters. One day, I saw my daughter walk up to my husband, and say “How can I ever thank you for adopting me?” It reminds me of my gratefulness to God. He has given me a home and a name. Without him, I would have nothing. Often when we pray at bedtime, my daughter thanks God for giving her parents. I pray along with her, thanking him for my amazing daughter, and I cannot help but thank him for being my loving Father. There are many other things God has taught me about my adoption through my experience as an adoptive parent, and I know that there are probably many more lessons down the road (particularly as we embark on the adoption of our son in the coming months) Some of them I’m sure he’ll teach me over and over again. I am continually amazed, that he saw fit to not only give me motherhood, but to give me a daily peek into my relationship with him as my relationship with my child grows.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

What would it look like if Christians were like Christ?

I’ve been reading a really good book lately. It’s called Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches. The author, Russell Moore, asks the reader: “…what would it mean if our churches and families were known as the people who adopt babies--and toddlers, and children, and teenagers. What if we as Christians were known, once again, as the people who take in orphans and make of them beloved sons and daughters?” I read that and audibly said “YES!” Then my mind started going further. What if we as Christians were known, once again, as people who help the sick and the poor or anyone in need? What if we were known as people who have a burning passion for Christ that cannot be sated? I read articles about Christians the world over who risk their lives, their health, their wealth, and their comfort for insatiable passion for Christ. I can’t help but imagine: what would it look like if that were the norm in Christianity? I can‘t get it out of my head. I’ve had conversations with my non christian friends about Christianity and Christians. They tend to view Christians through the 3 P’s: They’re political, preachy, and they pray a lot. Really? Is that what we’re known for? What would happen if we became less inward focused, and started showing Christ to the world? Now you’re probably feeling a little ruffled. How could I call us inward focused? After all, we’re Christians! We teach Sunday School, tell our children about Christ, tithe 10% and give donations to ministries, and missionaries, and couples who need help adopting. Look at how much we do for Christ! Those are certainly nice things, and certainly I’m not saying you should stop, I guess I’m asking more, why stop there? Have you noticed how inward they’re focused? I know, we’re caught up with mortgages, jobs, child rearing-- there’s not much of us left over for much else. After all, we need a good quality of life as well. That seems to be a uniquely American attitude though. Jesus didn’t ask us to follow Him as long as it fits in between our nice house, new cars, flat screen TV, and “me time”. How many of us look at the sacrifices made by other Christians or missionaries around the world, and admire it, but feel it’s too radical for us? What would it look like if we as Christians became known as the people who reflected Christ? I have a feeling it would look pretty radical. So often I hear: “I would love to be involved in missions…someday.” “We would love to adopt…someday.” “There’s this ministry I would love to start…someday” So my question to you (and to me) is this: Our lives are but a vapor, so what are you waiting for????