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
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.” 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
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. 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
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????