Sunday, November 27, 2011

What If We Never Had?

Last night, I watched Sassy jumping up and down in front of the digital picture frame in our living room exclaiming with such delight as the pictures scrolled, "My grandma, my grandma, my grandma.  Then, that's my mommy, my mommy, my mommy."  As I watched her joyful expression and listened to her voice, I heard her claiming us as our family.  Two emotions simultaneously washed through through me.  I was elated and delighted that we were indeed her family.  That was her grandma and I was her mommy.  I felt so lucky, so blessed for her to call me mommy with such certainty.  With all of my flaws and shortcoming, I was still her mommy, and she was glad.  The other emotion I felt was a deep sadness, for her first family and their loss.  For the family that did not get to see her healthy, for the family that does not get to hear her giggle, watch her grow, see her dance.  My heart hurt.  Then, I was slammed with an even deeper pain.  The pain of what would have been had we not said yes.  If she were not in our living room jumping up and down around the Christmas tree, where would she be?  Perhaps just in another family in cozy America.  But then, I would not be her mommy and that photograph would just be of someone else's grandma.  My heart hurt and in that instant I realized that a seemingly simple decision, to say yes, changed the course of direction for our entire family.  That was all we had to do, just say all of our imperfectness, all of our shortcomings, and all of the ways that we don't measure up.  In all of that mess, God could still use us.  

A freshly cut Christmas tree, digital picture frame with scrolling photos of our family, and our dancing two-year-old princess.  It was a beautiful sight, yet racing through my body I felt the pain and suffering that would exist if all of the families welcoming children into their homes had made other choices.  If those families had thought they did not have what it takes (whatever that it may be).  What would have become of their children?  I know the answer to that because it is what is happening to the millions of children who do not have homes.  It is an ugly, dark, horrid reality.  God designed us to live in community and we need one another to thrive.  In my opinion, family is probably the most critical part of the wholeness equation and without one, well, we can see how things begin to fall apart before the child is ever even given a fair chance.  

As I watched Sassy claim us as her family, the mix of emotions was almost too much to handle.  There is nothing special about our family yet we have been blessed beyond measure.  I cannot bear to think of what would have been had we not said yes, if we focused on our countless shortcomings and reasons why God could not be asking us to do this.  My simple prayer today is that if you hear God whispering that you could be doing something to help the millions of orphans and widows worldwide or the half a million of children in foster care in the United States, that you believe that He could in fact be asking you to say yes.  Say yes to loving him by caring for those he holds nearest and dearest.  Matthew 18:5 says, "And whoever welcomes one such a child in my name, welcomes me."  When Sassy and Sporty arrived, broken, scared, and dejected, they brought wholeness to our family.  God, thank you for giving us the choice and the courage the say yes.  Thank you for blessing us through your love as it shines through our children.  

Friday, November 4, 2011

Adopting The Ungrateful Child

With Orphan Sunday coming up this weekend, I wanted to talk a little bit about adopting ungrateful children.  One would think that after investing so much into the lives of adopted children, the children could at the very least be grateful or appreciative for the gift of life in abundance given to them.  Instead, they are oftentimes whiny and self-serving, unappreciative and even disrespectful and disobedient.  Instead of asking what they can do to help the family to which they have been adopted into, they asked to be served and given more.  "I want this, give me that, that's mine" can often be heard or implied.  With each passing day the children take and take, being filled like gluttons, they distance themselves from the feeling and fulfillment they once had the day that they realized they had been adopted.  What a joyous day that was!  

The adopted children I am referring to are not Sporty and Sassy, our precious gifts from God. (Even though...gasp...they do act like children everywhere and sometimes forget to be grateful.)  No, the children I am referring to are those (myself included) that have been adopted into the kingdom of God.  Ephesians 1:5 states, "God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."  Yet, we often forget about what a gift it is to be adopted into his family what that gift means for how we should be living our lives.  We see, we want, we take, we want more.  How much more is enough?  Will it ever be enough?  I would like to suggest that there is nothing, NOTHING this world could offer you that will ever truly fulfill you.  Sure, you may find fleeting pleasure and satisfaction through a new job, advanced degree, new car, a relationship, and/or new latest greatest tech device, but does it ever last?  I think you already know the answer to that.  

Isaiah 58:11 tells us, "The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring."  Only in the Lord can one find true fulfillment.  You can believe it or deny it, but it is the truth.  Those of us (again, myself included) who have tried to find 'it' elsewhere before being rescued know this truth.  We have the scars.  I love, love, love our God.  One who chooses to adopt ungrateful children not because of anything we have done or not done, but because that is how much he loves us.  And because he adopted us into his family, we choose to share that gift wherever, whenever, and however possible.  

One of the happiest days of Sporty's life was the day that his nannies at the transition home ran in to tell him that "Yes, you have a family.  You have been adopted!"  He shares that story and the   deep joy it brought to him.  He was no longer an orphan, he had been chosen, adopted into a family who would love, cherish, and care for him to the best of their abilities.  That is exactly what God does for each one of us!

This Sunday, as we bring awareness to the millions of orphans around the world, please take some time and reflect on the extreme abundance that you have been blessed with.  Think, pray, and reflect on how you may be able to use what you have been given to change, shape, and better the lives of those whom society has rejected and deemed not worthy.  Because you know what?  They are worthy.  

Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?   When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you?  When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’  “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:37-40)

Orphan Sunday 2011 from Christian Alliance for Orphans on Vimeo.