• The Choices We Make

    Date: 2014.03.29 | Category: Adoption | Tags:

    On March 29, 2014, I will be giving a talk at a women’s conference.  They have asked me to share my story.  This is the outline of my talk.  I am including it on my blog for ease in others referring back to the video’s, quotes, book, pictures, and links.


    Family Picture

    Hope made this video for Orphan Sunday this year.

    The Blessings of Family



    “I think a lot of us need to forget about God’s will for my life. God cares more about our response to His Spirit’s leading today, in this moment, than about what we intend to do next year. In fact, the decisions we make next year will be profoundly affected by the degree to which we submit to the Spirit right now, in today’s decisions.   – Francis Chan

    Main points that I want for them to take away from this talk:

    • You always have a choice.  The choice to follow God’s lead or just exist.
    • Every day that you wake up awards you a new choice and a new chance to do something crazy for God.
    • The Holy Spirit leads each and every day.  It’s not something you do someday or sometime in the future.
    • Adoption shows what being adopted into God’s family means in a very tangible way.

    Best choice I ever made? – To believe in God.

    The simplest choice – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God….  Ephesians 2:8

    We are not saved by works but God saves us to do His work.

    What does following God mean to you?

    • Showing up on Sunday
    • Participating in small groups/Bible Study
    • Tithing

    I want you to consider that God wants you to do more:

    • God wants us to get uncomfortable.
    • God wants you to give more than you even dreamed.
    • God wants you to step out in faith.

    2nd most important choice – marrying Dan

    Recently my son got married and it got Dan and I to thinking what if God stood before us on our wedding day and had a list of everything that we would go through in our marriage?  Would we have said “I do”?  Would we have signed up for the crazy?

    I would like to say that I had always intended to do crazy things for God.  That it is was always first and foremost in my mind to follow His lead.  That is not the truth though.

    How many people in the room have adopted?  How many have thought about adopting?  How many are here just here because they heard our story and want to see what crazy really looks like?  🙂

    National survey by Department of Health & Human Services 2002 (Figures)

    • 18.5 million women thought about adopting
    • 2.6 million took concrete step towards adopting
    • 614,000 actually adopted
    • There are approximately 400,000 children in foster care
    • Of those 400,000 – 100,000 are waiting to be adopted
    • There are approximately 60 million children in orphanages in China
    • There are approximately 143 million orphans worldwide

    Three thoughts and videos that really changed the way I thought about my life:

    1. If you are called to adopt and you don’t go get your child, it is no different than leaving your biological child being half-way around the world.

    Depraved Indifference – Eric Ludy

    2. God just wants you to do something.

    Matthew West – Do Something

    Nobody made a bigger mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little.

    You don’t have to be Katie Davis  or  Andrea Kazindra

    3. You can’t live your life holding on to the balance beam and slide off at the end of your life and think God is going to say “Well done good and faithful servant.”.

    Balance Beam – Francis Chan


    Our story – choices made

    Birth of boys – Choice to choose bitterness and anger or trusting God’s plan


    Presented with Hope’s life – Choice to choose the easy, the comfortable

    • Or choose the “crazy” and the uncomfortable
    • Choosing to take a chance that your heart might break
    • To have loved is better than to not have loved at all
    • Every child deserves the love of a family
    • And if a child is going to die, to die in the arms of someone they love


    Choosing the safe and comfortable or to follow the spirit when we decided to have another child

    • Tubal reversal
    • Pregnant first month
    • Ruptured vessel
    • One tube scarred over – one not even connected
    • “Don’t know how we got pregnant.”


    A few years later Dan read Max Lucado’s book  “Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference”.

    Max says, “A few years back, three questions rocked my world. They came from different people in the span of a month.

    • Question 1: Had you been a German Christian during World War II, would you have taken a stand against Hitler?
    • Question 2: Had you lived in the South during the civil rights conflict, would you have taken a stand against racism?
    • Question 3: When your grandchildren discover you lived during a day in which 1.75 billion people were poor and 1 billion were hungry, how will they judge your response?

    “I didn’t mind the first two questions. They were hypothetical. I’d like to think I would have taken a stand against Hitler and fought against racism. But those days are gone, and those choices were not mine. But the third question has kept me awake at night. I do live today; so do you. We are given a choice . . . an opportunity to make a big difference during a difficult time. What if we did? What if we rocked the world with hope? Infiltrated all corners with God’s love and life? What if we followed the example of the Jerusalem church? This tiny sect expanded into a world-changing force. We still drink from their wells and eat from their trees of faith. How did they do it? What can we learn from their priorities and passion?”

    Dan decides we need to do something.

    He says “let’s adopt”

    I say, “I’m too old.”

    Then I read: Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman in which her daughter asks her, “Is it better for an orphan to have an older mother or no mother at all?”


    Choose to proceed with adoption:

    •                        We choose to adopt Maisey (She weighed six pounds at 6 months)

    mei mei

    •                        Agency gives us the option to adopt two.
    •                        Older – never adopting again we should do this
    •                        Hope asks us to adopt a little boy with a heart defect
    •                        Dan nicknames our newest child, Tigger
    •                        Saw Ben – Tigger picture

    Ben 11

    •                         Cardiologists say we would be crazy to adopt him
    •                         Knew he was our son
    •                         Followed the Holy Spirits lead

    Ben Before & After

    In the middle of it all Gracie was diagnosed with lupus.  She starts chemo right before we have to leave for China.  Do we proceed?  Do we trust?  What choice do we have?  Our children are on the other side of the world.


    Landed back home – I knew right away we were being called to go back again.

    • More of the crazy
    • Signed up for two – Lainey & Eli
    • Presented Evie by Agency – made no sense at all
    • Waiting on Eli’s paperwork so we proceeded with Lainey & Evie
    • Saw Jasmine’s picture
    • Trusted that if God placed that burden on our hearts – He would make a way.
    • Petitioned China to adopt three and they said yes!
    • Waited for Eli’s papers from June to March
    • Trusted beyond a doubt that Eli was our son
    • Petitioned China to adopt four

    babies x 4

    Orphans are easier to ignore before your know their names.  They are easier to ignore before you see their faces.  It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms.  But once you do, everything changes.  – David Platt

    When in China we were presented children who were sicker than we had been led to believe.

    • Lainey’s rages and autistic behavior


    • Evie weighed 13 pounds at 26 months and couldn’t sit unassisted


    • Jasmine was not a paraplegic but instead had muscular dystrophy


    • The child who was expedited for being so ill, Eli, was actually the healthiest.

    Ben 5

    Choice to leave them in China or take them home.

    The hardest yet most blessed year in my life so far.

    • Came home to my mother having a perforated ulcer, a heart attack, quadruple bypass, weeks in the ICU, and ultimately she passed away on Christmas Eve.
    • Lainey doesn’t sleep more than 2 hours at a time
    • 2 heart surgeries, 4 heart caths, a code and a hospital stay


    We had the choice:

    • To choose what most consider the American dream to retire early and vacation
    • Or to follow God’s lead and do something with the remaining years of our life

    What are you doing to help the widow and the fatherless?

    There are many ways to help:

    • Adopt
    • Sponsor
    • Foster
    • Support others
    • Pray

    We have chosen to adopt again.  Jasmine tested my choices and we decided we can do more.  What will your choice be?

    Dan texted me this morning to wish me luck and he asked that I share this verse with you.

    “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”  – John 13:17


    “He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”  – Ephesians 1:5

    …acknowledge the God of your father, and serve Him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. 1 Chronicles 28:9a

    Jesus says, “Do not merely listen to the word….Do what it says!” – James 1:22

    Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27

    I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you. – John 14:18

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

    You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child.- Exodus 22:22


    We bend.  I bend to sweep crumbs and I bend to wipe vomit and I bend to pick up little ones and wipe away tears… And at the end of these days I bend next to the bed and I ask only that I could bend more, bend lower.   Because I serve a Savior who came to be a servant.  He lived bent low.  And bent down here is where I see His face.  He lived, only to die.  Could I?  Die to self and just break open for love.  This Savior, His one purpose to spend Himeself on behalf of messy us.  Will I spend myself on behalf of those in front of me?  And people say, “Don’t you get tired? and yes, I do.  But I’m face to face with Jesus in the dirt, and the more I bend the harder and better and fuller this life gets.  And sure, we are tired, but oh we are happy.  Because bent down low is where we find fullness of joy.” – Katie J. Davis

    “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something” ― Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference

     “May you live in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life.”― Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference

     “Here’s a salute to a long good life: goodness that outlives the grave. Love that outlasts the final breath. May you live your life in such a way that your death is just the beginning of your life.”― Max Lucado, Outlive Your Life: You Were Made to Make A Difference

    “It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but I believe that we were each created to change the world for someone. To serve someone. To love someone the way Christ first loved us, to spread His light. This is the dream, and it is possible.” – Katie J. Davis

    “The truth is that the 143 million orphaned children and the 11 million who starve to death or die from preventable diseases and the 8.5 million who work as child slaves, prostitutes, or under other horrific conditions and the 2.3 million who live with HIV add up to 164.8 million needy children. And though at first glance that looks like a big number, 2.1 billion people on this earth proclaim to be Christians. The truth is that if only 8 percent of the Christians would care for one more child, there would not be any statistics left.” – Katie J. Davis

    “…because “Mommy” is forever. It’s such a powerful name. Mommy means “I trust you.” Mommy means “you will protect me.” Mommy is for shouting when you need someone dependable and for laughing with when you are excited. Mommy is for crying on and cuddling with when you are sad, or giggling and hiding behind when you are embarrassed. Mommy is the fixer of boo-boos and the mender of broken hearts. Mommy is a comfort place – a safe place. Mommy means “you are mine and I am yours and we are family.” – Katie J. Davis

    “If every Christian family in the United States would simply commit to pray and ask God if HE wants to use them to bless a child without a family, well, we’d change the world. If we can get the church to think about adoption not in terms of the desires of adults but in terms of the needs of children, I think we’d see on a much grander scale how God sets the lonely in families.”  – Kelly Rosati, Wait No More: One Family’s Amazing Adoption Journey


    Radical obedience to Christ is not easy… It’s not comfort, not health, not wealth, and not prosperity in this world. Radical obedience to Christ risks losing all these things. But in the end, such risk finds its reward in Christ. And he is more than enough for us.”  – David Platt


    “I could not help but think that somewhere along the way we had missed what was radical about our faith and replaced it with what is comfortable.”  – David Platt, Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream


    “We will not wish we had made more money, acquired more stuff, lived more comfortably, taken more vacations, watched more television, pursued greater retirement, or been more successful in the eyes of this world. Instead, we will wish we had given more of ourselves to living for the day when every nation, tribe, people, and language will bow around the throne and sing the praises of the Savior who delights in radical obedience and the God who deserves eternal worship.”  – David Platt


    “You and I can choose to continue with business as usual in the Christian life and in the church as a whole, enjoying success based on the standards defined by the culture around us. Or we can take an honest look at the Jesus of the Bible and dare to ask what the consequences might be if we really believed him and really obeyed him.” – David Platt

    Orphans are easier to ignore before your know their names.  They are easier to ignore before you see their faces.  It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms.  But once you do, everything changes.  – David Platt

    Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that really don’t matter.  – Francis Chan, Crazy Love


    But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable.  He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.  – Francis Chan


    Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches – Russell D. Moore

    Orphan Justice: How to Care for Orphans Beyond Adopting – Johnny Carr

    Crazy Love – Francis Chan

    Radical – David Platt

    Radical Together – David Platt

    The Connected Child: Bring Hope and Healing to Your Adoptive Family – Karyn B. Purvis

    Adopting the Hurt Child – Keck and Kupeky

    The Mommy Manual – Barbara Curtis

    Adoption Parenting: Creating a Toolbox – Jean Macleod

    Real Parents, Real Children: Parenting the Adopted Child – Holly Van Gulden

    Gotcha Day: A Celebration of Adoption – Sheila Temple

    The House of Hope – Elizabeth Gifford

    Wish You Happy Forever – Jenny Bowen


    Does God Answer Prayers

    Francis Chan – Fearless

    Francis Chan – Balance Beam

    Matthew West – Do Something

    Hope is Fading

    Depraved Indifference – Eric Ludy


    Show Hope


    New Hope Foster Home

    Love Without Boundaries

    Agape Family Life House

    Half The Sky

    Little Flower Project

    New Day


    International Voice of the Orphan