Clarifying…it’s one of the things I do well. I use the word clarify almost as much as I use the word seriously. That is part of the back story to why my blog is called Seriously Blessed. If you know me very well, you might have even heard a couple Holy Toledo’s too. Don’t ask.
I sometimes think I am explaining things very clearly and then I start to get texts and Facebooks messages. When more than a couple people asked questions, I realized I may not have been as clear as I thought I was. So I will clarify a bit further here and then we will see if there are still questions.
I do believe God is showing us clear signs that we are to adopt an almost aging out child. I do believe there may be more than one more Ellsbury child out there. There have been many more little signs that I didn’t include like yesterdays fortune cookie which was pretty funny.
I do believe God showed me Kelly and Amanda’s pictures to show me how many lovely girls there are out there that are running out of time. The odds of us being able to get our paperwork done in time to adopt them is pretty unlikely. I do, however, believe God showed me their pictures and touched my heart so I would blog about them and get their pictures out there. From blogging about them, I was added to a group where a mom is actively advocating for Kelly and believes Kelly is their daughter. This mama is praying for Kelly. I am praying for them both. Kelly ages out in August. If they are paper ready, they stand the best chance of getting her adopted.
I forget that not everyone who reads my blog has adopted or knows someone who has adopted. You have to start from the very beginning each time you adopt. This is a big sore spot for me. The homestudy has to be done again and it takes a good month. You have to do fingerprinting all over again for the homestudy and then again for the immigration office. It took us 2 months to get Codey’s fingerprints cleared last time. It takes most families a good year to get everything in order from start to finish. I don’t really understand it. It’s not like we haven’t had follow-up home studies all year or that my fingerprints have changed sinced last year. It’s one of the things about adoption and all the bureaucratic red tape that I will never understand. I understand wanting to protect the child but we have been under the microscope for two years now. We aren’t new to the system.
Sweet Kelly has five months. We can try to expedite, but as I said before, it would take a miracle. Not that I don’t believe that God could do it. Obviously, He is in the miracle business. I just believe it may not happen because that may not be His ultimate plan. I want her to have a family. She deserves a family. I want her picture to get out there so others who may be paper ready see her. She was recently added to Reece’s Rainbow so that should help. Kelly
The reason we are really praying about this and have talked about it being overly complicated is that we have three children having heart surgeries in the next couple of months. Jasmine needs surgery before the summer is out. Life is definitely complicated.
I have been in this situation before having my heart really touched by a child and having to turn it over to God and just pray. Each and every time a family has found them. My heart has been burdened. I have cried many tears and prayed many prayers. I’ve shared their pictured and hoped a family would choose them. A family did and now I watch them blossom and grow with that new family. I don’t always understand why He burdens our hearts so, but God works in mysterious ways sometimes.
Yes, these girls have touched my heart but I am unsure as to what will ultimately happen. It doesn’t mean we won’t start the paperwork. It doesn’t mean I am saying no. It just means I have no idea what God has planned but I am open to His lead.
I am trying to locate Amanda. So far the agency has not returned my messages. The mom who wrote the blog said she has lost touch with her and will try to find out which agency she is with. We will see. I want her to be able to go to college. I even wondered if she aged out if we could sponsor her education. There has to be a way. I want what is best for her. I want her to have a future. Last night I spent some time sleuthing and I think I found her on Reece’s Rainbow under the name Twyla. Twyla
Many people have questioned why we are not waiting. I just assumed everyone understood that it takes time. We won’t be adopting in the next month or two. If everything went unbelievably perfect, we would have a good five months before anything happened. We are taking everything into consideration. We are prayerfully considering everything. I shared my story hoping to encourage others about looking for the signs that God sends us. I believe He is saying there is more in store for our family.
That being said if you feel God nudging you in the direction of adoption, don’t let fear stop you. Let Him lead. If God brings you to it, He will get you through it. You have to believe that nothing is impossible. Yes, adoption costs a lot, but I have seen Him provide in amazing ways. Yes, there are unknowns, but the blessings are unbelievable. If God is leading you to a little boy, have I got the sweetest little guy for you to meet. If I believed God was leading us to a toddler, I would have the paperwork started already. This little boy has stolen my heart so much so I didn’t even want to share his picture. Although, he has been seen by thousands of people on the Love Without Boundaries site so I suppose I’m out of luck keeping him a secret.
Be prepared to have your heart stolen. This little guy is a cutie. Herakles
There are so many children needing families. Pray, contemplate, let God lead, watch for those signs. It’s a pretty amazing journey. I’ll be letting you know what the next signs on this amazing trip are for us. Keep praying!
Many of you have probably seen the Bill Engvall stand-up comedy routine with the line “Here’s your sign!”. Well, my last two days have been full of signs, but these signs were from God. I believe God has a sense of humor and I certainly felt like He was doing His own routine with me. “Here’s your sign, Lisa!”
Now you may or may not believe that God talks to people through other people’s words. You may or may not believe that God cares about the smallest of details, but I do. If you don’t believe in God, then you would just dismiss these as coincidences. I, however, call them God-cidences and many others call them God winks. God is definitely in the details, even the smallest of details. If you pay attention, you just might be surprised at what you hear. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” – John 10:27
My last blog post was all about being convicted. Jasmine and Grace have been praying hard that our hearts would be open to adopting more children. Jasmine especially wants to adopt girls that are about to age out, just as she was. She has prayed over and over again that we would adopt six more sisters.
If you had asked me if I could handle this four months ago, I would have most likely said no. But now that we are past the six month point and finding our new normal, my answer would be yes. Life is busy, but very nice. Evie and Eli play so well together. Ben and Maisey are best friends. All the littles play together well and try hard to get Lainey to come out of her shell and play. The middles have settled in nicely with school and being more responsible for chores. Cassie has been a huge help with taking a night shift or two with Lainey. Cassie even watches the kids for four hours so Dan and I can have our weekly dates. Zach is soon to wed his sweetheart, Steph, whom the kids love. It’s a darn good life, if I do say so myself.
Because of this new found normal, Dan and I started to pray and really take to heart what Jasmine was asking us. We made a list of what we thought we could handle. The list included: 1.) A girl who was about to age out . 2.) Someone who just needed a break to be able to succeed. 3.) Someone who understood what family meant. 4.) Someone who really wanted a family. 5.) Someone who was kind and loved children. 6.) Someone who needed a surgery that they could get here. 7.) Someone who was open to coming to the U.S. 8.) Someone that others had met and could let us know first hand that the above information was true. and 9.) Someone who knows some English.
We decided to pray about it some more and not actively start to look. It is really hard on your heart to see so many children that just need a family. We talked to everyone in the family and all were on board. My mother-in-law stated that she had a real peace about the whole thing. She said she had seen God work in our lives during the past three years and if He was leading us to it then she was on board.
Later that night, I was up with Lainey. She often wakes up every hour, but it is unusual for her to want to stay up and play. It was 2 a.m. and she had no desire to go back to sleep. I sat beside her while she played and got my phone out to just waste time. On Facebook I saw a little girl named Kelly she was being advocated for by Lifeline and a site I had never seen before. (Kelly)
Now I have seen lots of aging out boys over the past few months and many, many, many cute toddlers, but I have not seen very many, if any, aging out girls. I read her story and it moved me to tears just as Jasmine’s did over a year ago. I wrote down Kelly’s information. I noticed who I would have to contact in the morning and I prayed some more. Later, at closer to 4 a.m. as I was begging Lainey to please go to sleep, I noticed that someone had commented on a shared post about another girl. This girl was named Amanda. (Amanda ) Amanda had the same special need as Kelly. I read about this girl and cried too.
I started to think about what the odds where that I would read about both these girls and that both these girls fit all 9 of the criteria we had agreed upon. I copied their information in an e-mail and sent it off to my husband to read in the morning. In that e-mail I asked him to look at these two girls and let me know what he thought. In the morning, the e-mail I got back had three little words on it —- “Sign me up!”
I started to contemplate what that would mean. The both age out quickly, one in August and one in October. Could we do this? I know God had shown me miracle after miracle last year, but could it happen again? I was afraid to get my hopes up. I sent out the emails to ask questions about the girls. I sent out emails talking to my social worker about the home study and to our agency to ask them if they thought it was feasible at all. I heard back, “It would take a miracle and everything would have to go perfectly, but it is possible.”
I started to think, “Who has 18 kids?” I mean I tell people we have 12 kids and they look at me as if I have two heads. I spent a lot of time that morning thinking about how many people I knew that had over 12 children. I know lots of families with 10, 11 and 12 children, but only one family with 18. I wrote this post on Facebook that same day.
God has the biggest sense of humor. If you missed my blog or Jasmine’s video, you may not have heard that we (our whole family) feels as if God isn’t done with us in regard to adopting. Jasmine & Gracie asked for six more sisters. We have been praying about it. My thought is who really has 18 kids? That is a really big family. I know of one family, who I deeply respect who has 18 kids and I love following their story, but I haven’t heard of very many more though. Since writing my blog, I have come across 3 other families with 18 children. Today I dropped off my car at the dealership because the emission light came on. Normally I would walk home because it’s only 2 miles, but it is cold and I just didn’t feel like it. The gentlemen who drove me home asked what I did for a living. I said, “A stay-at-home mom”. He asked how many kids we have and we proceeded to talk. He told me his wife was one of 17 children. He went on to say how blessed they were and how wonderful it was to gather together. He also told me about friends of theirs who have 20 children. Ok. Ok. Ok God. I get it. It can be done!
Dan and I decided to take the night and pray about it some more. We would sleep on it and talk in the morning. I woke up thinking, “God, I just want an answer. I want to know that this is the right thing to do for our family. I wanted clarity. I went to talk to Dan, not any clearer than I was the night before.
We started to talk about this in his office downstairs so we wouldn’t be interrupted. The word that kept coming up over and over again was complicated. We watched God unfold in amazing ways last year. We were both talking about whether or not God was asking us to step out in faith again. To trust that He could make it happen. I walked up the stairs thinking “I wish God could just text me and tell me what to do.” I would willing step out in faith and follow Him anywhere. I just want to know that what I am doing is right for our family and this is truly what He is calling us to do.
I took a minute to myself. I decided to check Facebook and just let my mind wander for a bit. The daughter of a friend of mine wrote a message to me and posted it on my timeline. This is a girl I barely know. I’ve met her a few times in her life, but I don’t know her all that well. This is what it said, “I read this prayer this morning and thought of your sweet family. “Lord, complicate my life.” Complications from the Lord require the biggest miracles, which require the biggest prayers, which requires the greatest faith. All of these things also come with the greatest blessings and your family has been filled with a house full of blessings. Blessings that would have been missed out on if you hadn’t been willing to allow God to complicate! Thanks for letting us be a part of your prayers and miracles.”
I took a moment to tell her that it really touched my heart and then later I went back and explained a little of the above. She then told me that she typed and erased this post numerous times because she felt funny saying it to me. I am so happy she listened to God’s prompting.
I ran straight back down and showed Dan. I laughed about God and His handing me a sign. I wondered when I would stop questioning. Would I always doubt? How many more times did He have to show Himself faithful? But then I thought it wasn’t that I didn’t believe God could do this, I just wasn’t sure we should be doing it. I know what the world is going to say. I have had people tell me this is irresponsible, which I find humorous. I can guarantee you we are not entering into any of this lightly. Because the truth is it is irresponsible not to listen to God when you know He is asking you to do something.
Which leads me to my last sign. Our car was finished late in the afternoon on Friday. I wasn’t sure Cassie and Zach would be home before the shop closed at 6 so I called the dealership and asked them to come pick me up. The girl informed me that both drivers were out and she would let me know if they could do it or not. About five minutes later, there was a red pick-up in my drive. She called and I ran out to get in the truck. I asked her why she didn’t call or wait for the other drivers. She informed me that it was so nice out and we lived so close, she just decided to take the boss’ truck and come pick me up. She noticed the bus and laughed about our owning a bus. I told her that we have 12 children, two in wheelchairs, and were hoping to adopt more. She turned to me and said, “I am adopted too. It’s a good thing that you are doing.” It was then that I really paid attention to her beautiful Russian accent. I smiled and told her we have been so blessed. She then informed me…..(wait for it)…..that she was almost 14 and adopted from Russia. She told me that she was one of the “experiments” of adopting older children from Russia 17 years ago. She loves her parents. She loves her life. She was very, very happy. We talked about the hardships of being almost an adult and adopted, but how worth it is was. I asked her how often she goes out to pick people up. She informed me not very often at all. I thanked her for sharing her story with me.
As I have said before, Dan and I have read a lot on the subject. We have talked to people who have had problems. We have done as much information digging as we can. We were once the parents who were too fearful to proceed because of all the horror stories that you hear, BUT Jasmine’s adoption has turned out to be such a beautiful thing. All those worries were for naught. We are prepared to do this again and find out as much information as we can about the child to know that the adoption will be a good fit for our family, because when it works it truly is a beautiful thing.
For now, we are praying about it this weekend. If you are a praying person, please pray for clarity for Dan and I. As for the kids, they have taken their “we can help you so you can adopt” campaign to new levels. Here they are doing the dishes.
It’s a team effort folks. There’s nothing these guys won’t stoop to even scrubbing the floor.
I love their hearts. They want to share their room, their toys, their clothes, their parents time and their attention. They purposely do all the can to help.
I love my husband for his huge heart. He is truly my soul mate. He is so moved by these little girls too. I am so happy I followed his lead all those years ago about adoption. It was me that was hesitant. He was the one who saw Hope and fell in love despite all the protests from his work colleagues. He has the biggest heart and I am blessed to have been married to him for 29 years.
I truly am blessed to have been able to step out of my comfort zone and complicate my life. God has shown himself faithful in so many ways. I am blessed beyond measure and filled with joy because I stepped out in faith and followed God’s lead. Wouldn’t you want to have a front row seat to that again? I believe if we decide to proceed, that God will make a way. I truly do. He has provided in the most amazing ways over the years. If we proceed and this works, all the glory will go to the Lord!
Please pray for these two girls. I do hope that they will find a family. Life for a child with disabilities in China is very, very hard. I pray that they will have the love and protection of a family that will allow them to become all that they can be.
I have been convicted. Yes, you heard that right….CONVICTED! Heck, I’ll even spell it for you. C.O.N.V.I.C.T.E.D!!!!
CONVICT (verb) (v., adj. kuh n-vikt) - 1. to prove or declare guilty 2. to impress with a sense of guilt
Over and over again God has been showing me signs that He is not through with me yet. He’s definitely saying there’s more that I can do. I admit that I argue with Him. I have told Him, “Are you kidding me? Do you see how busy my days are? Do you know how much money we have spent over those two years we were adopting?” But God quietly whispers, “You aren’t listening Lisa.” and I proceed to stomp my foot like a two-year-old. (And no I haven’t lost my mind. I’m not actually hearing those words…He’s just been sending me signs.)
Signs like the Francis Chan balance beam video. Have you seen this video? He talks about us, as Christians, how we start out good, but then life gets hard and we just drop to our knees and hang on to the beam for dear life. We live tidy little lives and then it’s our last day, we slide off the beam, end in our finish stance, throw our arms in the air, a big smile on our face, and expect God to judge our performance. How is He supposed to judge that? (Francis Chan – Balance Beam Video )
We live comfortable lives. We forget about all those that are doing without. Those that God has commanded us to care for and we expect Him to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.”
It’s not enough to just show up on Sunday, tithe your 10%, and live a “good” life. It’s not enough to try not to sin and do a little good every once in a while. It’s not enough to just raise children who will walk in the way. He is asking us to get uncomfortable. Really uncomfortable. He is asking us to make it hurt, and not just a little. He is asking us to really dig deep and trust in Him enough to let go of all that makes us comfortable.
The next sign I had was another video by Francis Chan. His fearless video. This video talks about how everyone told him he was crazy to live on $36,000 a year and give everything else away. People tried to tell him he needed more. He needed to protect his children and save for their futures. But Mr. Chan says, “People are crazy to not trust God for everything.” Mr. Chan talks about how going to Africa changed him. He says that he could no longer live extravagantly while others were doing without clean water and the most basic necessities. What Mr. Chan has been able to give away is truly amazing! ( Francis Chan – Fearless Video )
I’m still living a very comfortable life. My cars are older but they run and they are paid for. I even own a bus. Albeit a 1998 bus with rust and 100,000 miles but the fact is I own a bus. I live in a very nice home. I live on three acres and have more than I could ever possibly need. I eat out. I can buy all the food I want. I pack up sacks of stuff to take to Good-Will and still my house is overflowing.
So it’s safe to say, I am not doing enough. I have not given up enough. I am blessed beyond measure and yes, we do give but I think C.S. Lewis says it best. ”I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare…If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us,… they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditures excludes them.”
I don’t know what to do about it but I do know God is working on my heart. Every time we order pizza, I wonder if I should be doing it. It’s not a guilty feeling as much as it is a “you can do more with that money” feeling. I don’t want to get to heaven and have regret. I don’t want God to show me the “how your life could have been” recap and have my heart be filled with regrets. I don’t know if you are like me but I have lived safely in the “I am saved, God paid for my sins” way. I don’t have to worry about my sins. I am told to go forward and sin no more when those sins become known to me, but once they are confessed to God, they are wiped clean. That is pretty amazing.
But then what? I’m made as white as snow and get my free pass to heaven and all is ok? Do we really think that God isn’t asking more of us? Do we really think there won’t be some accountability? I used to think just that. I mean the verse says no more tears, no more pain, no more sorrow. But then I really started to think about it. It says God is the judge. There will be accountability. I’ve started to picture it like a movie that God will show me when I enter His gates. A movie of what I could have really done had I given up the comfortable.
I believe we have gotten so used to the comfortable that we do everything we can to not see the hurt that is going on. We don’t read blogs or watch movies or listen to stories that will bring us down. We have lost sight of caring for our neighbors and truly loving one another. I recently read this verse….
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. From time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Acts 34:32-35
Sure, I would sell land if my child needed surgery, but would I do that for a stranger? Would I do that for someone else’s child? I don’t want to be the person that holds on so tight to my possessions that I lose sight of what God is calling me to do. I want to be open to His plan. I do feel he is leading us to do more in the way of adopting. I’m trying to wrap my head around what we can handle, but I know it is more.
I took the time to write down what is really stopping me from adopting? First, coming up with more money. Really? He has already provided for seven adoptions. Seven! And I’m going to question His ability to help us afford more?
Second, I’m really, really busy, but part of why I am so busy is because I refuse to hire help to do the housework. I would much rather be with my kids, but I don’t want anyone else to clean my house? It sounds so prideful and it is. Do I really want to stand in front of God and say, “I would have taken in more girls, but I had to clean? Really? Or better yet leave the house only half-way presentable. It’s clean enough. It’s just not sparkling. Should not having an impeccable house stop me from taking a child out of an orphanage and giving them the love of family?
God has always chosen to speak to me through my children. He did it when we adopted Hope. Zach and Cassie were so adamant and open to taking her in no matter what the outcome. God did it when we adopted Maisey. Cassie had just learned sign and she was so certain we were to adopt Maisey. And then again with Ben, Hope wanted to adopt a little boy with a heart defect. Ben knew that Eli was his didi. Ben prayed daily for Eli. All the girls fell in love with Jasmine. And now it is Jasmine’s turn.
This is the video we secretly took while she talked one night. She does this almost every night. My response has always been, “I’ll pray about it Jasmine.” Now she says, “I’m praying about it. Are you mama?”
What can I possibly say to this? Every day she tells me how happy she is here. So very, very, very happy she says. She tells me she just wants to make more little girls happy and I am convicted. Convicted because I know in my heart I can do more. I can. I have so much love to give. We have a huge house. We have more than enough. We have so many people to love them.
I continue to pray. He has been faithful in so much these past three years. I am absolutely blown away by all that He has done. I am truly blessed by all that I have gotten to be a part of.
What am I going to do, you ask? I’m not sure yet. But for now I wake up to the subtle hints of pictures of bunk beds, and this picture saying family and the number 18, and I pray even more.
While shopping alone at Wal-Mart the other day, the clerk was busy ringing up my items and chatting away. She saw my three big boxes of diapers and asked me if I did foster care. I replied, “No, we have four who are still in diapers at home. We recently adopted six children from China.” To which she replied, “Oh….well, I guess they need families too.” and then there was nothing else said. Just silence. Chatty Kathy just stopped talking. Not even the customary “Thank you for shopping here.” or “Have a nice day!” Nothing!
This is not the first time I have heard these kind of comments. I have even blogged about the interesting questions we have been asked since adopting. (Read here) Even more recently when I was shopping with the five littles, I was asked if I got them in the Made in China clearance aisle. I know most of the time people make comments because they think they are being humorous, they truly are curious or they don’t know what to say so they say the first thing that pops into their head. But the outright indignation over us adopting internationally instead of choosing “one of our own” truly bothers me especially when it is said in front of my children.
We chose China for a lot of reasons. The first being that was where we felt God was leading us. Now if you don’t believe in God, I understand that would be a hard comment to understand, but it is my truth. Yes, I know there are children in need in the United States. At any given time there are more than 250,000 children waiting to be adopted. With that being said, in 2002 the statistics from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services state there were approximately 18.5 million women who considered adoption. (Figures) It seems that number of children could be easily adopted so people with a heart for adoption is not the problem.
So what is? Fear of the unknown? Lack of money? Lack of information? Not knowing where to proceed? Believing that if you don’t step forward someone else will? Only wanting to adopt a healthy newborn? What is the issue with people and not adopting? Why do 18.5 million women think about adopting, only 2.6 million women take concrete steps towards adoption, and then only 614,000 proceed with adoption? From 18.5 million to 614,000 is a large number of women. I wish I had the answer to that, but what I do know is that I don’t take these things lightly. Once your eyes have been opened to the need for parents to step up both domestically and internationally, it’s hard to stay quiet.
I pray someday that there is no reason to even discuss international adoption. I pray that families will be healed. I hope that when parents die there are other family members or friends of the family or church members that step up and take these children in. I pray that countries will be better equipped to help parents who have children with birth defects. I pray there will be no more birth defects. I pray that there would be funding available for surgeries for all those children who are born to parents who can’t afford to get their child surgery.
There are many, many things that could happen to lower the number of orphans in the world. There are many wonderful programs in place that you can support, but even then there are many, many children who will never, ever know the love of a family, through no fault of their own. Amy Eldridge from Love Without Boundaries recently wrote a blog about international adoption. (Read Blog Here) In this blog she talks about how Americans adopted 2% of the children in institutions in China in 2011. Only 2%. I know that there are more domestic adoptions in China, I know there are other countries adopting from China, but that still leaves a huge percentage of children who will never know the love of family.
Because that is true, I will continue to advocate for these children. I will continue to support groups such as New Hope Foundation and Show Hope and Love Without Boundaries. I will do this because these groups helped Lainey, Eli, Maisey and Jasmine. I will do this because I’ve seen the difference made by these organizations and I have first hand knowledge of what it means for a child to be starving for food and love. The world is not perfect and we have to make the best decisions we can based on the information we have. But to say a child doesn’t deserve family because he/she wasn’t born here is a sad statement. To believe that any child doesn’t deserve the love of family is something I can’t even comprehend.
Look at this picture and tell me which child doesn’t deserve the love of a family?
I believe they all deserve the love of a family. I also believe we should take care of our own. The Bible states we are all children of God. There are no distinctions there. Every child needs the love of a family.
I started this draft long ago and just never finished it. It’s been sitting there in the draft file for a long time, but after a recent talk with Cassie it got me to thinking about this subject again. Cassie has been asked over and over again in college “What is your go to drink to get drunk?” She is amazed at how often college students talk about drinking, getting drunk, and partying. When they talk about issues that they think are big issues, Cassie brings up orphans and some of the stories she has heard. Their response every single time is….”That can’t be true!”
She loves her big family and all her siblings. Cassie feels blessed to be able to care for them and to live at home. When others ask her why she still lives at home, her response is, “You have no idea how wonderful it is to have five little people run to the back door to greet you when you get home. They shout your name, they surround you with hugs, they love you with all their hearts, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”
Cassie even had a teacher congratulate her for creating and maintaining a “personal identity” despite her family. This, of course, was said with great sarcasm along with “it’s good that you seem to have your own identity outside of being on call for your family. You deserve to live and grow and develop yourself, and not in your family.”
I love what my children have learned from living with Codey and his special needs. I love what my children have learned from our adoptions. I love their hearts and their love and trust of God and His perfect plan.
All of this got me to thinking what kind of world would we live in if we only….
TAUGHT OUR CHILDREN….
to be world changers.
to embrace the uncomfortable.
to live simply and with purpose.
to help when they saw a person who was failing or falling.
to put others first.
to pray for others including those who hurt us.
to not speak unless their words were uplifting and encouraging and filled with love.
WHAT IF OUR CHILDREN…
didn’t think the best thing about growing up was moving out, going to college and partying?
spent their time finding their passion and their purpose to do all they could for God?
dreamed about the day when they’d be old enough to adopt or foster?
worried about the poor people in their hometown?
couldn’t wait to volunteer to mow a widow’s lawn or cook a meal for the hungry or help out at a shelter?
truly knew what it was like to live in a third world country?
didn’t always dream of the next big toy, but instead dreamed of funding wells, buying mosquito nets, providing food rations, sponsoring surgeries?
their hearts were really broken for the hurting in this world?
strive to have a relationship with Christ, a real relationship?
WHAT IF OUR CHURCH FAMILY…
truly supported those who wanted to adopt? Stepped up to help families with the costs? (All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. – Acts 2:44-45 NIV)
felt honored to help those in need. (Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. – Duteronomy 15:10 NIV)
thought the most wonderful thing you could say was “I have helped others adopt 10, 20, or more children. I have practiced true religion. (Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 NIV)
gathered together to help the widows? (Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. – 1 Timothy 5:3 NIV.)
truly believed their blessings were gifts from God and couldn’t wait to share them with others? (And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. – Hebrews 13:16 NIV)
first thought was not to pass judgment but to love as Christ loved us? (“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” – John 13:34 NIV)
not only read God’s commands in the Bible but truly followed them? (Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. – James 1:22 NIV)
our main goal in life wasn’t a better car, a bigger house, a nicer vacation, or retiring when we are 50?
we knew how much we had and didn’t need more?
we truly couldn’t wait to share our blessings?
we finally decided this life wasn’t about us?
we found the true meaning to joy and happiness.
I have been hit hard with the realities of the world lately. I just read a book entitled “Silent Tears” by Kay Bratt that is a journal of her four years volunteering in a Chinese orphanage. My heart aches for these children. My heart aches for my children. I have seen the effects of a sterile environment. Children need nurturing. Children need love and interaction. Now not all orphanages are void of affection, but many are. Many are just overwhelmed by the number of children in their care. They do the best they can with what they have, but the truth is many children are just left in cribs. Many children spend their days staring at the walls. No toys, no interaction except getting changed and given their food. Children need more than that. I think we can all agree with that.
I have shared information on my Facebook about these things and rarely do people comment. I have often wondered what brings people to share information or “like” items. You can share a silly picture and get 75 likes. I believe that is because this makes people happy. They love to celebrate the accomplishments of my little people. They like to laugh along and see how far they have come. But share a blog or a picture of a child from Love Without Boundaries who is hurting and very few people comment. I know that doesn’t mean it wasn’t seen or that people weren’t moved or that the child wasn’t prayed for. It just sometimes surprises me that very few comment. I guess I want to know that others care. I know many people joke that they would like a “dislike” button, but I would like a “prayed for” or an “I care” button.
The truth is its easy to share silly videos and help them go viral but we avoid the uncomfortable. We avoid the talks of children dying in orphanages. We avoid the talk of children hurting, children starving, homeless families, communities without clean drinking water, widows who are in need, children dying from preventable diseases. We pretend that this isn’t happening. It makes us uncomfortable. What can we possibly do about it? It’s easier to just scroll on past and pretend it isn’t happening.
I was once that person. I saw the pictures. I saw the need, but it seemed so far removed that I really didn’t pay attention. The more I learn about children in orphanages the more my heart hurts. I don’t want to have my heart hurt. I’d like to avoid that. I’d like to just think about happy things. But the reality is God commands us to care for the orphan. You may not be called to adopt but that does NOT let you off the hook. You are called to care.
Every day I see posts about children aging out of the Chinese orphanage system. Fourteen years of age and no longer able to be adopted. To never have family to call their own. To be put on the street, or given a job in the orphanage, or worse yet to get a “better offer” which leads to human trafficking or marrying an older man at the tender age of 14 or 15. These are the realities for these children.
I look at my little girl who is profoundly hard of hearing. I think about what her life would have been like if she had never been adopted. She is a pretty girl. She would have led a life of begging or worse. Do you know what that does to my heart? Yes, we saved little Maisey’s life, but there are so many more out there just like her that won’t be saved. My.Heart.Hurts!!!!! I can’t just sit here and pretend this isn’t happening.
All day long, I have heard story after story talking about the Russian billionaire who is saving the dogs in Sochi. People praising this guy for saving these dogs. The news has been filled with this feel good story. I’m not against saving the dogs in Sochi, but if you are going to talk about the dogs, let’s also talk about the children in Russia that are hidden away from the public. Let’s talk about this same Russia that shut it’s door to international adoption. The Russia that has 300 children who have met their American parents, the same parents who aren’t allowed to go get their children. (Free the 300 ) I recently read a blog where they shared the pictures of photographer Kate Brooks. Take a look at these pictures and see if these children don’t deserve the same press coverage that the dogs are getting. (Warning: These pictures are heartbreaking!)
A few days ago the same information was covered on a blog that I read. ( Tiny Green Elephants ) So many people shared her information that they shut down the server. I know people care. I know people want to do something. I just believe they don’t know where to start. So if her post touched your heart and if hearing all these stories makes you want to do something, then do it!
Let’s stop avoiding the hard. Don’t wait for another day when you have more. You are blessed! Unbelievably blessed. Let’s, each of us, give up a couple of coffees and dig a well. Let’s fund a surgery. Let’s save a soul. Let’s help someone adopt. Let’s sponsor a child. Let’s make a difference. I don’t care which group you pick. There are so many good ones. I’ve listed the ones that we’ve had the privilege of working with on the right side of my blog. Just do something. Make a difference. Don’t believe because God hasn’t called you to be the next Katie Davis (Amazima ) or Andrea (Do Something) or Dr. Joyce Hill ( New Hope) that what you do doesn’t matter. It does.
I’ve said it over and over in my blogs before. If you can, adopt. If you can’t adopt, foster. If you can’t foster, donate. If you can’t donate, volunteer, educate, pray. We can all do something. What has He called you to do? Come on. Join me! Let’s do something.
I said, “God, why don’t You do something?” He said, “I did, I created you!” – lyrics from Do Something by Matthew West
I am privileged to be able to be part of a wonderful group of families that are sharing their adoption stories of Chinese children with heart defects this month. If you want to have your heart touched, have your faith restored, see wonderful stories of trusting God, and beautiful children, then this is the blog for you.
If you are considering adopting a child, please read these stories and see how these families lives were blessed. I know many of their stories and am honored to be part of this blog. Jamie did a great job putting it together last year (Yes, there are 28 more stories from last year.) and this years is off to an even better start. There are at least two stories of post heart transplant. There are stories of faith in uncertain circumstances. There are many, many stories talking about how blessed the families are to have these children in their lives.
Pull up a chair, grab a cup of your favorite beverage and prepare to have your heart touched. I know mine was during last years and the first 7 days of this year’s blog. Today is my day to share with everyone. I thought I’d share it on my blog too.
May your faith be renewed. May you find purpose in your calling. May you strive to share God’s glory with all those around you no matter what that calling may be. Make 2014 your year to shine for Christ!
My blog about older adopting older children:
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about adopting the older child. (Beauty Admist the Pain ) I still feel very strongly that people need to step up and help these children. However, after I wrote this blog another article was brought to my attention talking about some of the corruption that is happening with older children’s adoptions. You can read that blog post here. Fraud in Older Adoptions Revealed
I still stand by my words that you need to find out as much information as you can about the child before proceeding. I know of cases that were absolutely devastating to the family, but I also believe that there are children waiting to be adopted that desperately want the love of a family and would be a good fit for some family some where. There are many beautiful older souls languishing in orphanages and the foster care system who are good, wonderful, caring children. I know because I am a mother who is blessed enough to love one.
The kids are doing well. Lainey has made great progress and has even started saying some words. Evie is walking all over the place. Everyone else has been healthy (knock on wood) and making great progress.
In less than a month’s time starting on Christmas Eve we lost three members of our immediate family. Mom died Christmas Eve with her Celebration Service being on her birthday, January 5th. Her husband and my stepfather, Will, passed away on January 13th with his service being January 18th. Right after the service for Will was over we received notice that my grandfather had had a stroke and was being taken to the hospital. My grandpa, Pop as I called him, passed away on January 20th with his services being held on January 24th. It has been a horrible time for the family. Especially for my grandma who would have celebrated her 73rd wedding anniversary on May 10th. 72 years with a person is a very long time and her heart has been very sad with losing my mom, who was her best friend only a few weeks before her husband. Please keep her in your prayers.
What I’ve learned from all this hardship:
1.) It’s easier to lose someone if they are in poor health and you have time to plan. In the end, it almost seems a blessing. But that is only true if you know that person is a believer. Knowing someone is rejoicing in heaven is a beautiful thing. It’s hard to be sad when you know there will one day be a glorious reunion.
2.) If you aren’t sure if your family member believes, ask them. I always assumed that my stepfather was a believer. He said he went to church when he was younger, but I never had any indepth conversations about it. It just never came up. It was very hard talking to little Gracie after his death. She was so worried about his soul. (Sometimes it is hard to believe Gracie is only 8.) No one wants regrets of being able to save a soul and not having said anything.
3.) It’s good to let your family members know exactly what your wishes are. When they are in a state of shock, it’s helpful to be able to say with certainty that this is what your loved ones wanted. It was easy to plan mom’s service because she had said over and over again what she wanted. It was nice to be able to implement her wishes and celebrate her life.
4.) Don’t be the invisible mom! Make sure you are in pictures with your loved ones, especially your kids. I went through tons of pictures trying to find pictures for the slideshow. I realized I always take the pictures. I am rarely in the pictures. I know my children know I was at their birthday parties and special events, but someday their children may wonder where Grandma was.
5.) Enjoy each and every day. It truly is a gift to live in the present. Don’t assume you have tomorrow. If you have things that need to be said, say them. If you have people you need to forgive, forgive them. If you love someone, make the time for them.
6.) Don’t talk about people unless you were there and can state something is fact. My brother found my stepfather and this has been very hard on him. People in the small towns all have their own ideas about what happened and all the gossip I have been told second and third hand was wrong.
7.) People actually break into people’s homes during their funerals and after their deaths. Yes, there really are people that are that low. Mom’s house was broken into. I am still in shock about that. The sheriff said it often happens. Who knows what was taken? Who knows what they messed with? It made me so angry. Not because of the items that we know were taken, the t.v., dvd player, etc. Just the thought that someone went through her stuff before we had the chance to. It’s just so sad.
8.) Your days are limited. They are numbered. You can pretend all you want but someday you will leave behind the people you love. Make sure they know how much you love them with actions not just words. On your last day, you will take NOTHING with you. Remember that. That job you work so hard at won’t be holding your hand at the end. Your diplomas won’t add another day to your life. Those vacations won’t keep you warm while you lie in your hospice bed. Regrets are a horrible thing. Don’t waste your life. Do something with it and love your family and friends.
9.) I don’t want another year to just pass by. Do you? Why not make 2014 a year to remember? Do something great for the Lord! What is your passion? What is your calling? What can you do? Everyone can do something. Everyone has a passion. Praying you find yours and you make 2014 the year you made a difference.
In June of 2012, I saw a picture of a little boy in New Hope Foundation’s newsletter. They were pleading for a family for this little guy. China had said they couldn’t do surgery and his only hope was coming to the U.S.
Then a month later, I saw a Show Hope newsletter asking for the same thing for little Warren. By then I was praying and pleading with God. I knew in my heart if it was meant to be that he would be my son but so many things could go wrong. But I had faith and truly believed he would be my son, I just knew it from the very first moment I saw his face. I mean really, who wouldn’t fall in love with a face like this?
Months went by as we waited for the orphanage to make him paper ready. We waited and waited and waited. We finally had to make the choice to adopt Evie and Lainey and go back to get Eli when his papers became available. I never gave up hope because I knew this little guy was my son and Ben believed fully that Eli was his didi. (You can read more about it here. Miraculous Happenings)
In the meantime we saw Jasmine’s picture and proceeded with her adoption before she aged out. China had allowed us three. We would just have to turn around and use our paperwork and head back in another six months or so. But then in March his papers miraculously became available. Everything was expedited and China allowed us to adopt all four at once. In May he became our son. The magnitude of all that happened for him to become our son is never lost on me. I am blessed over and over again by this sweet little guy.
Elijah James is as sweet as sweet can be. He is fun and games and everything good. He is goofy and funny and loves to cuddle.
I have a song that I sing to all the kids before the go to sleep. I make up their song as I get to know them.
Here is Eli’s:
Eli the pirate, he stole his mama’s heart.
Eli the pirate, right from the very start.
Eli the pirate is as cute as cute can be.
Eli the pirate is a treasure to me.
He loves to bake.
And chase and be chased by his siblings.
And be silly in every possible way.
This year we got to meet Steven Curtis Chapman because Eli was the 500th child to be admitted to Maria’s Big House of Hope in China. SCC’s Glorious Unfolding tour came to Iowa. His Glorious Unfolding cd is one of my favorite SCC cd’s ever. It was so fun to meet Mr. Chapman and thank him for all the care he gave to our little guy.
Eli is so easy going and sweet. Evie and Eli are best friends. They have their own little language that is so funny. When Evie gets her shot, it’s Eli who is holding her hand and high fiving her afterwards. He is the first to say please and the first to say thank you. He is the first to go to sleep without even a peep. He loves everyone and hasn’t found a food that he doesn’t like to eat. He is the lowest maintenance of all the kids. He is thrilled with the littlest gift. He has the cutest dimple and the best smile.
Eli’s future is uncertain, but isn’t everyone’s? We have an appointment at Stanford in April. We will see what they have to say and what they can do. In the meantime, we will thoroughly enjoy the days we are blessed to spend with this little guy. We know how lucky we were to be able to adopt him in the first place. It’s hard to worry about the number of his days when you had a front row seat to the amazing miracles God had happen just to allow us that gift.
Happy birthday little guy! xoxox
But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasure, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. – C.S. Lewis
God’s megaphone has beat me up along side the head and I haven’t a clue what to do about it. My heart hurts. The more time I spend with Jasmine the more my heart hurts for all the children living in orphanages that will age out. Every day someone or some organization posts a picture of a child, a beautiful child, that will age out in months. They are pleading to all their friends to share the pictures. They are hoping and praying that somewhere out there is this child’s forever family. Unfortunately, it seems like most of the time, the world is not listening.
There are so many children that will spend their lives in institutions because no one steps up to take them. So many children who will be released to the street with no family, minimal education, and little or no life skills. Many of these children right here in our own country will turn 18, get a few dollars, and be on their own. These children may need a little bit of help or a lot of help, but one thing is the same for all of them. They are all children with no one to turn to.
I often wonder why aren’t more people stepping up to help? I believe part of the problem is because people are afraid of all the horror stories they have seen in the news. The wonderful stories aren’t making the front page or the evening news. So people believe that the horror stories are the norm. These people are afraid of the disruptions these children will bring to their family. They are afraid of the unknowns. They are afraid of failing or not being enough. I know these feelings. I once was overwhelmed by them. I once closed my eyes to the need because I was fearful.
Because of this fear, Dan and I had chosen not to adopt an older child. We had a long list of reasons why. An older child would be harder to integrate into our family. They posed a bigger risk to the littler kids. An older child would have a harder time with language. They would be harder to bond with. An older child comes with more emotional baggage. An older child could run away. The reasons went on and on and on and on.
BUT we were so wrong. Jasmine is a beautiful soul. I keep waiting for things to change but it hasn’t. Even in times of stress, she is still the same loveable girl. Most of the time Jasmine has a smile on her face. She loves life even though her life hasn’t always been easy. Jasmine has gone through so much. She has started to share things about her childhood that are unbelievably heartbreaking. We know these stories are true because Jasmine has many, many scars to show for it. Jasmine was abandoned when she was eight, when she needed family the most. She spent six years in an orphanage where they weren’t able to move her. She couldn’t go to school because they couldn’t carry her down the flight of stairs to the schoolroom. She spent years sitting in a wheelchair watching others have fun. You would think she would be an angry teenager but she isn’t.
Jasmine may be physically unable to do many things but mentally she is very, very bright. She has picked up on English so quickly. The other day I jokingly told Stephanie that Maisey could do everyone’s make-up for the wedding. Here is a picture of Maisey after she did her own make-up.
The next morning Jasmine asked me, “Mama, you no really mean Maisey can do my make-up for Zachy’s wedding? I no really like that. You being silly right, mama?” That is a pretty good grasp of the English language after only 7 months. Jasmine is bright and funny and all girl. She loves pink and pretty dresses and watching wedding shows. She loves to do her makeup and go shopping.
Jasmine needs surgery to correct the curve in her spine, but Jasmine has chosen not to have surgery until after the wedding. She wants to dress up like a princess and see Zachary get married. After speaking with her doctors, we got the okay to hold off a couple of months so she could wear her dress and participate fully in the wedding.
After we got the okay from the doctors, we took her shopping for the perfect princess dress. It was one of the best days I have ever spent shopping. The joy on her face as she picked out frilly, sparkly, sequined, rhinestoned dresses was priceless. We had tried on a few at the first store and none were to her liking. We headed to Deb’s and picked out six more to try. The first one she didn’t like. The second one was a strapless gown with a rhinestone belt. It was made for Jasmine. Elastic in the back that I can easily take in. No shoulder straps to get in the way. It had a frilly skirt with lots of layers, that lovely rhinestone belt, and glitter that got everywhere. She put in on and smiled so big. She said she felt like a princess. She refused to try on another dress. Watching shy Jasmine become self-assured Jasmine was a wonderful thing. She knew it was the right dress. She not only felt pretty she knew she was pretty. (I promised her I would not share a picture until the wedding day.)
She started talking hairdos with Cassie and what shoes she would wear. Could she take her new hot pink wheelchair? What necklace and bracelet should she wear? She so wants to be just like every other little girl. But she’s not like every other girl and Jasmine knows this. Lately, Jasmine has been asking a lot of hard questions.
“Will someone ever want to marry me mama?”
“Will I ever be able to have babies?”
“Will they let someone like me adopt?”
“Can I go to college with Gracie?”
“Am I pretty?”
“Am I going to get sick?”
“Will I be like nana?”
I tell her what I tell all my children. Only God knows your future. Only God knows the number of your days. Only God knows if you’ll get married. Only God knows how many children you will be blessed with. Only God knows.
Your job is to:
Learn as much as you possibly can.
Be content with what you have.
Trust in God.
Memorize those verses that show God’s promises for the hard times.
Be as kind as you possibly can.
Do the best that you can at what God has called you to do.
And leave the rest to God.
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27
Jasmine understands God. I am amazed by that. We’ve had long conversations about Him.
One of the most interesting stories was when we were discussing her being in the orphanage and wanting a family so much. She said she would say over and over again in her head “Please send me a mama and a baba.” She said she would say it quietly in her head many times a day . One day I asked her, “Jasmine who were you talking to when you were pleading for a mama and a baba?” She sat there for a minute and then got all excited and said, “Mama, I was praying to God. I just didn’t know His name yet.”
She is a bright girl. I don’t know what the future holds for her except that she will be loved by many, many people and she will never be alone. Yes, life with Jasmine is hard physically. There are many things that I have to do for her each and every day. Jasmine’s future is uncertain. Things at some point are going to get very, very hard and my heart is going to hurt, BUT the good so outweighs the bad.
I am taking the time to share Jasmine’s story in hope that one person lets go of their fear. One less is a beautiful thing. One more child in a loving home. One more child with a future and a hope. That is what I want you to take away from this. If God’s megaphone is calling you, if He is nudging you along, if you know He is saying, “Look at this older child.” Don’t completely rule it out. Pray and get as much information as you can. Try hosting a child through Project 143 or Rainbow Kids.
Look at children you can get information about domestically and internationally. Love Without Boundaries is a perfect example of an international organization that advocates for older children. That is how we found out about Jasmine, because they were advocating for her on their Facebook page. There are many, many organizations that can give you information from people who have personally met these children. People who have spent time with the children. People who are advocating for these children because they know what special souls they are.
Many of you may have heard the story of Davion, a 16 year old boy who went in front of a church and pleaded for a family. (NY Daily News) His story went nationwide and many people came forward to inquire about adopting him. Many more people started to look into fostering children or adopting older children. If you were moved by his story, don’t let it end there. Look into it. See what you can do. There are many older couples who are choosing to be foster parents instead of settling into a life of quiet retirement. I love reading their stories. (NY Times)
God’s been talking to me through my pain. I know He is asking something of me, I just don’t have it all figured out yet. Step one was to share this information. There is so much beauty admist the pain. Don’t let the pain frighten you away. Let that pain move you to do more, be more, love more. God has big plans for some of you out there I just know it. Praying that He leads you and that your heart is open to listen and that you will respond to His call.
- March 2014 (4)
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- December 2013 (4)
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- December 2012 (6)
- November 2012 (4)
- October 2012 (5)
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- August 2012 (8)
- July 2012 (8)
- June 2012 (12)
- May 2012 (8)
- April 2012 (8)
- March 2012 (31)
- February 2012 (11)
- April 2011 (3)
- Chinese Children Adoption International
- Hats for Gracie
- Hope Ministries
- Jessie Joy Rees Foundation (NEGU)
- Love Without Boundaries
- New Hope Foundation China
- Samaritan's Purse
- Show Hope & Maria's Big House of Hope
- Smile Train
- World Vision
- China 2013
- Evangeline Faith
- Family Life
- Jasmine (Shuang Shuang)
- Lainey Rae
- Thoughts to ponder