Sunday, June 28, 2009

The things we learn

With these somewhat more relaxed days of summer, we have had more time to chill a bit with the kids. This week, Hanna and Biruk both separately opened up a little more about their lives while in Ethiopia.
Friday we had a 40 minute car ride home from a friend's house. Hanna took that time to share:
She told of her mother's house made of plastic and sticks. A large storm came and blew it away. As her mother became weaker with illness, they had less and less food. Sometimes there was no food. Sometimes she had a lunch to bring to school, but someone would steal it. The story went on like that until we got home.
At the same time, Scott took Andy and Biruk camping with Grandpa. Biruk told them stories along the same vein. He told Scott that as his mother grew weaker, she would sleep with a stick because people would come into the house to steal their food. She would hit them with her stick and their older brother would beat them up and strip them of their clothes to shame them as he pushed them out of their home. He also told of less and less food.

How easily we forget and insulate ourselves from the lives our children have lived. How easily we become irritated with any kinks in their transition. Could I do as well? I don't think so. I like to think I am strong, but it is easy to be strong when you are safe and well fed and protected. Would I really be the same strong person without those things?

So I didn't just learn facts about my children's lives, I learned more about what should continue to be done. I have been on both sides of this conversation, and I am sure at some time so have you. It goes like this:
1st person:Yadda, yadda, yadda, adoption, help the homeless, visit elderly...
2nd person: that is so amazing, I could never do that...


This is our problem.
We are always so quick to focus on what we can't do. Stop wasting my time and your breath on what you can't do. What you can't do doesn't matter.
Find out what it is that you can do, and get started on doing it.
Every little thing you can do makes a world of difference to the one you are doing it for.

Do you know the story of the hummingbird?
It goes like this:

One day a terrible fire broke out in a forest - a huge woodlands was suddenly engulfed by a raging
wild fire. Frightened, all the animals fled their homes and ran out of the forest. As they came to the
edge of a stream they stopped to watch the fire and they were feeling very discouraged and
powerless. They were all bemoaning the destruction of their homes. Every one of them thought
there was nothing they could do about the fire, except for one little hummingbird.
This particular hummingbird decided it would do something. It swooped into the stream and picked
up a few drops of water and went into the forest and put them on the fire. Then it went back to the
stream and did it again, and it kept going back, again and again and again. All the other animals
watched in disbelief; some tried to discourage the hummingbird with comments like, "Don't bother,
it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too tiny, it’s only a drop, you
can't put out this fire."
And as the animals stood around disparaging the little bird’s efforts, the bird noticed how hopeless
and forlorn they looked. Then one of the animals shouted out and challenged the hummingbird in a
mocking voice, "What do you think you are doing?" And the hummingbird, without wasting time or
losing a beat, looked back and said, "I am doing what I can."

Are you doing what you can?
Don't you hear Mary: What ever he tells you to do, do it!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Are you up to it?

There has been a lot of talk recently about what we should be doing for Jesus. What is He asking us to do? Please visit my friend's blog. After reading it, see if there isn't something you might be inclined to try after seeing what Missy and her family have done.
All I am asking you to do is start doing something, any seemingly small thing, to help care for orphans.
Come on, I dare you.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

but wait, there's more

Ok, I am going waaaaay beyond the simple Lemon-Aid stand. I have a speech for you to use when approaching your church about an orphan ministry. If you are nervous about public speaking and live within a 150 mile radius, I will come and give it for you. I am working on visual aids and everything.
In the mean time, here's the speech:

I come to you today representing Project Hopeful with a proposal for our church to start an orphan ministry.
Perhaps you haven't thought of an orphan ministry before. That's okay, you can start thinking about it today, right now, and here's why.
Adoption is our Heavenly Father's heart. It is how we became a part of His family.
Ephesians 1:4-5
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to ADOPTION AS SONS through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.
Romans 8:15-16
For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of ADOPTION AS SONS by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ...

I know personally families who have approached their churches for assistance with their adoptions and were told no because adoption was a personal choice that had nothing to do with the church.

Adoption is not a choice. It is a mandate!

It is all over the bible.
John 14:18
I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.
Psalm 68:6
God sets the lonely in families...

My personal favorite:
Psalm 113:9
He gives children to the woman who has none and makes her a happy mother. Praise the Lord.

James 1:27
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.

Where would we be if God our Father did not adopt us? We would be dead. Dead in our sin. But no, God adopted us as sons and daughters. Heirs with Christ.

Mathew 25:40
the king will reply, "Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."

Just who are the least of these? I propose to you that the least of these brothers are orphans, and the VERY LEAST OF THESE are orphans with HIV/AIDS.

So what can we as a church do? There are so many orphans. When we look at the "big picture" it seems hopeless, but it's not.
Stop looking at the wrong "big picture". It is so much more simple than we think.
Bring it down to ONE.
Change the big picture for one child at a time.
Become a "church family in the gap"
Advocate for one child at a time.
Champion for just one.
Pray for just one.
As a church family, pool your resources and create a grant for just one.

The fees to adopt an HIV/AIDS child are around $25,000.
for an individual family, those initial costs can be difficult to meet.
For a church family, not so difficult.
Here are just a few ideas:
1.Each family could forgo one meal out and donate the cost of dinner to your child's adoption fund.
2. Have a Lemon-Aid stand
3. Have a garage sale
4. Have a car wash
5. Stage a fund raiser
6. Give up your special cup of coffee out and make it at home
Do these things until your goal is met.
In no time you will have the funds to bring that one child home, all the while praying for the family that God is calling for that child to step up and say yes.

Project Hopeful provides the education, encouragement and proper waiver process to assist each adoptive family. We as a church can provide the prayer and financial support.

When that one child is home, you start all over.

It all comes down to ONE.

Monday, June 8, 2009

It's the start of something new...

Ok, sorry, I have pre-teen girls. I couldn't resist tossing in a little HSM. Please keep reading.
If you are in the adoption world, I am sure you have heard of Project Hopeful. . If you have not yet been acquainted with this organization, please visit their website and feel free to be very generous. In any case, PH was founded by another friend, Carolyn Twietmeyer. It actively advocates for orphans with HIV. PH is set to explode and could use help in every avenue: financially, prayerfully, volunteers, the list goes on.
I am so very excited to share with you what I will be doing. My dear friend Melinda and I are co-chairs of fundraising and events. That's right, I will shamelessly be begging for your time, prayers and funds.
On the horizon are: a family event, fundraising dinner with raffles, silent auctions and entertainment, and fundraising opportunities for children. My most recent brainstorm was to ask kids to have a "Lemon-Aid" stand to aid orphans through Project Hopeful. My kids are always begging to have one, and how great to have one to help orphans! My kids will be holding one soon and I will post pictures. In the mean time, feel free to make some lemonade and cookies for your children to sell. I will send them a very big thank you!
Please pray that as Project Hopeful grows, we will be blessed with people to help us make it happen.
I know what my job is. I am to parent and advocate for orphans. God has a job for all of us. We all have different talents. I challenge you to find out what you are supposed to be doing, and I encourage you to DO it.

James 2:15-16
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?

James 4:17
Anyone then who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Older child adjustment

I have been thinking about Hanna a lot lately. Mulling over her adjustments, trials and triumphs, and my own frustrations. Through much thought and prayer, I have had a revelation about her situation.

At the gangliest, most awkward and uncertain period of any girl's life, she is being asked to navigate a bigger life change than most people will ever encounter. The most secure, content and well loved birth child rarely does this with grace and yet Hanna is expected to do this with a support system made up of her older brother and 5 foreigners who claim to love her, in a country she doesn't know, using a language she barely understands, and a diet that is entirely different. That is her task.

My task is to fall in love and bond with this gangly, scared, frustrated, goofy, hormonal pre-adolescent who wants to love and be loved by me while navigating all of these changes.

It is difficult to realize that even though you have loved someone since before you knew them, you have to learn how to love them in an entirely different way when they are actually with you.

I think that is the part that adoptive parents aren't aware of. When they are actually in it they think, what is wrong with me? I love my child. Why is this so hard?

It is hard because it is supposed to be hard. How could it not be hard? Imagine if we had to marry our spouse the first day we met them. Most of us have a year or 2 of getting to know them while we fall in love. As adoptive parents, we fall in love with an idea and have to live out the loving and becoming a family in real time.

When we are feeling stressed out and over taxed and illequipped, and we don't really like these children we love so much, we need to remember to give ourselves and our children a break.

Change is hard even when it is good change, and baby, this is a big good change.