The things I’ve learned in March 2014

I’m joining Emily over at Chatting at the Sky with what we’ve learned this month.  You can check out my other “the things I’ve learned posts”  HERE  (I’m not very good at being consistent so I just have a few of them)

1.  Let’s start out with the most important one…. I found the best donut in NYC….perhaps the best in America!

It’s at Dough in the Bed-stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn! Now, you really can’t go wrong ordering any of them. But the Lemon poppyseed one grabbed me and kissed me and wouldn’t let me go! It’s freaking amazing! (the classic glazed and coconut both competed for close second)

Dough:
305 Franklin St.
Brooklyn, NY (Bedford-Stuyvesant)

via

 

2. Deleting games off my iphone was the best decision ever! A little over a month ago I deleted all the games off my iphone. I was timid doing it… but when my kids woke up wanting to play games I knew they had to go. I didn’t know what to expect… but after about 48 hours, they stopped asking and haven’t asked to play since. They have enjoyed way more time being creative and using their imaginations. They still play on their grandparents phones/ipads when they visit them but otherwise we are a game free home. And I’m SO glad we are. Don’t think I’m that awesome… I still don’t mind sticking them in front of Disney Jr. for a few hours every day. But for some reason the TV just doesn’t have the same pull (except maybe with Zoe) as the games were having…. so I feel better about them watching it vs. that and games.

goodbye minion rush!!!!

 

3. Mission trips aren’t the same when you’re a busy mom of toddlers.  My husband and I spent a week in NYC leading 27 highschoolers on a mission trip. And I think I learned that this wasn’t going to be like other mission trips I’ve been on even before the trip began. I was tired… I was weary… I wanted rest…. I wanted encouragement…. I wanted one on one time with my husband… and as the trip came closer I knew that this was only going to make those desires of my heart deeper.  New York City will chew you up and spit you out after a few days. It’s a hard city to be in…. mind you it’s the most incredible city to be in at the same time. It’s a city Dan and I LOVE!! We honeymooned there (don’t ever do that!) and we’ve been back with friends and just ourselves and on mission trips as well. We LOVE it! We wouldn’t even mind moving there someday to raise our crazy kids there and everything! But this trip…. well, it was hard from day one. The teens reminded me that it’s hard to encourage them to stop thinking of themselves and to joyfully pick up trash in 16 degree weather when that was the last thing I wanted to be doing… or to not complain about being tired when every part of me was aching to lie down in my bed.  It was hard.  Dan was in charge so his thoughts and actions were all focused on leading this group all over the boroughs of NYC so focusing on his wife wasn’t what this trip was about…even though he was very thoughtful of me on trip, but we both knew he had a job to do.  But at least I had a crazy good donut place to eat my feelings at. ;)

But God sustained… He always does. God used much of that trip to teach me and expose my heart and to remind me how much He loves people wherever they are at in their journey towards Him.

While I think that I won’t be rushing to sign up for many mission trips anytime soon, I do know that God used this time to bring me to the point where I was completely drained and weary to the point where I cried a lot the week after I got home. I needed to cry.  I needed to talk to God a lot and often that’s how my heart becomes exposed as tears start to fall.  

4. I truly have never met a stranger.  People have always given me a hard time about how outgoing I am, but I think I realized on the above mentioned trip to NYC that Meeting people makes me come alive!! I LOVE it! I love hearing their stories, I love meeting people who I would never typically hang out with or cross paths with, I love asking questions that you wouldn’t ask someone unless you had that freedom of having just met them. (I think we become less honest and open at times the longer we know someone, maybe because there is more at risk if the conversation goes wrong.)  That being said… I LOVE big cities, airports, airplane trips, buses, subways, big stores, etc…. People, they just are incredible to me!  It’s funny though, if I want to get in and out of a store or just walk around and think… I go to Target, but if I’m in any other mood… I go to Walmart because you can meet and talk to some people up in Walmart!! Love chatting people up about all sorts of black hair care in Walmart!

My two favorite strangers that I met in NYC were on subways and one was a gentleman who builds restaurants all over Manhattan…. after having a delightful conversation about his job and what we were doing there in NYC from Texas, right before he got off he reached into his pocket and pulled out a wad of money and handed me a $100 bill and told us to go get some donuts and coffee and thanked us for serving his city.  The second one was a lady… probably my age and she had a plastic bird on top of her head…. just sitting there on top of her head. I tried to restrain myself but I HAD to ask her about it. So I did and come to find out she has always liked hats but didn’t think her head was the right size for most hats, so she pinned a bird on top of her head once when she was 16 and she liked how it looked and has been wearing birds on her head ever since…. and she was the most confident person in the world doing so.

I also got to meet in person two mommas who I have connected with through Instagram!  Sarah…. whose family is from Mississippi and they have the sweetest southern drawl you ever did hear. You can read her blog and their adventures in NYC  HERE. They live in the cool neighborhood of Clinton Hill… where I found the BEST pizza I have ever eaten!!  The second mom I met was THIS blog writer, Kristen. She is fearlessly (okay… probably more like trusting God in spite of the fears) raising her 4 kiddos in Manhattan… you can throw a rock from their apartment and it will land in Central Park. These families love Jesus and love the city and love their babies!! I was able to get to sneak off for a few minutes on two different days to meet these incredible women and watch them do life in their city dwellings! I’m so grateful to have met them and they were very encouraging to me during a long cold week in their neck of the woods.

5. Thrift stores are cheap therapy.  I don’t know what it is about them but it’s truly like therapy for me. body mind and soul…. I come out of a thrift store renewed. My mind loves it because it’s a place I can go and not think about anything except going through clothes and things and my heart loves doing it because it’s caring for my family at a price that is right and my soul is renewed because I often meet (see #3) people whom I have great conversations with or I am often reminded of people who are struggling financially on a different level than we do or ever have but yet they seem to be thrifting together as a family and with joy!  Dan and I had a conference to go to in Austin last weekend and Austin has the BEST thrift stores ever!!! So he loved me well and let me go to a few and now my kids have their summer wardrobes and I have had my therapy! #i’mgonnapopsometags #thisisfreakinawesome

6.  Pre-conferences aren’t worth it.   I’m not a conference junkie… but I do love them! (Okay, probably if money did grow on trees I would be a conference junkie) Anyway, I’ve been to two this spring. The Linger Conference in Dallas (AWESOME!!! will definitely go again next year!) and Dan and I just went to the VERGE conference in Austin last weekend. Which was GREAT!! I learned so much about Family on Mission and Making Disciples and who to invest in around you. Maybe more about that will be in what I learned in April as I try to work in out in my everyday life.  Anyway,  Both conferences offered pre-conferences at a low add-on cost, so we added them on.  But I wasn’t impressed with either Pre-conference…. and after going to the actual conference realized that a lot of the pre-conference is just hearing the same stuff before every one else does in a smaller setting.  No thank you… not anymore…can I get those two days back?

7. Mae Whitman from Parenthood is the voice of Tinkerbell.  Who knew? My kids LOVE some Tinkerbell movies and usually I’m pretty darn good and pinpointing where I’ve heard a voice before when it comes to animated movies, (if you like doing that… The rise of the Gaurdians is a fun one! Lots of stars in that one.) but I never picked her to be Tinkerbell’s voice!

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In Pictures: These Four

Tough as nails

thick as thieves

sweet as pie

wild as the wind

and

crazy as a bunch of bessie bugs.

 

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In pictures: Black and white

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Blayne + Cari + Adrian { Sincerely Session }

6 Months old. It’s usually deemed a tricky age to photograph… but not this kid. Adrian is such a big eyed cutie pie and after he got comfortable with me and my big ol’ camera in his face he really was a trooper and I think this post really captures how much he adores his parents and they him.

I have known Blayne since he was just a kid… and I was just a kid. So it’s been such a joy to watch as he has grown up to be such a godly man and how he beautifully pursued his wife and how he tenderly but firmly leads and loves his son.

LOVE this family!

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Are you done Adopting? { 31 days of Adoption : Day 14 }

 

Just came across this photo of Ezra today… and I’m just in awe of all that God has done in this little boy and in my heart since this photo was taken when he was found at 8 months old.

Friends… people ask me all the time if we are done adopting, and honestly, when you’ve been where I’ve been and seen the hurt and hopelessness and need and what a family does for a child who desperately needs one…. Well, I just don’t think I could ever say.. No more, we’re done! I can’t wrap my head around more… and know that even 1 more would mean big changes in our life. But then we have to ask ourselves what standard of life must we live in order for others to stay in a hopeless state of need.

I’m not saying God owes us any more children… we are BLESSED beyond measure. I’m happy with these 5 gifts! But what if…  Would He be big enough and sufficient enough to supply and bring about what would need to take place?  Would we be okay with reaching the “we can’t all fit into a normal vehicle” point? Do we really have to trade what/where we feel God’s leading in our ministry in order to give another child a home? It’s a whole life for that child… it’s relatively small sacrifices for us. Would you gasp at the announcement? Would we be the talk of the town as the crazy ones who are “at it again”? When you ask “are we done”? Just know, it’s really hard to put words to that answer.

Thankfully… I trust in the God who is already in my tomorrows and knows exactly how many Chappells there are to be! Because in my very human knowledge and foresight, I sure don’t. I’m tempted to fall asleep haunted by the hurt and fear that I see in my 8 month old sons eyes in this photo… but instead I’m going to rest in the fact that God has the whole world in His hands and He cares for each sparrow that falls… His eye is surely on the others that are longing for a family of their own tonight.

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Living Art

As a busy mom of 5 under 5 I don’t get a lot of time to surf the web, read blogs, or much me time at all… So I’ve had to really narrow down my time reading blogs (which I love to do) to just a few that really help me in the stage of life I am right now. One of those blogs is Emily Freeman’s blog “Chatting at the sky”. She consistently encourages me to look at life through God lenses  and this month has challenged me daily to view  this life,  even the mundane…especially the mundane as Art! Her latest book A Million Little Ways is ALL about uncovering the art we were made to live.

So I’m linking up with her blog to show a photo that I view as the Art I’m making right now. And I think this one says it best.

 

 

Physical Growth. Sibling Relationships. Kindness. Diversity. Bonding. Comfort and Security. Love. Forgiveness. Gentleness. Adoration. Happiness.

That is the Art God is creating through me and my daily life of changing diapers, changing shoes, changing sheets, changing my tone of voice, wiping noses, wiping bottoms, wiping tears, wiping the slate clean each morning.  Kissing boo-boos, kissing goodnight, kissing the way eskimos and butterflies do, ‘kissing the wave that drives me against the Rock of Ages’ (C.Spurgeon). Teaching letters, teaching manners, teaching days of the week, teaching that everybody falls short and yet grace abounds.

This is my Living Art.

What is the Living Art you are creating today?

 

Now back to finishing my 31 Days of Adoption. This series will probably take me through November to complete… but that’s okay, I’m really enjoying writing about it and I knew if I wanted to do it right  (and still have 5 surviving children at the end) it would take longer than just the month of October to finish.

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Singles who want to Adopt { 31 days of Adoption: Day 13 }

Can I just be really honest for a little bit.  I wanted this post to be filled with resources and stats and bullet point lists of why more singles should adopt.  But that’s not what is on my heart and so I thought I would just start typing and see what flows out of the depths of what is stirring inside.

This could be a post about understanding adoption as a Believer and how it matters to us all. But it’s not… hopefully I can write more about that later. This also could be a post talking about all the many many incredible ways single people can be a part of adoption without actually adoption. (oh.. there are many ways that are just as radical as adopting!)  Since I am an adoption advocate… I think in the terms of who can adopt. And with having very limited time to spend outside my family and home I have chosen to invest most of it into encouraging and equipping those who want to literally adopt a child.  So this post will be written in light of singles who are already feeling led to foster/adopt and to the believer who has single sister and brothers in christ who wants to adopt but you don’t know what to say or what advice to give or if you should even support them or not in this endeavor.   

I’ve noticed something lately, that when Christians want to live radical lives, such as adoption, church planting, missions, being raw and transparent about struggles in our faith, ministries that open your everyday life to the homeless..poor..foreigners..muslims., etc..,  When we start to dream and plan and live these out for the cause of Christ and we start to share and talk about it, there seems to be a lot of initial push back and warnings of how hard it will be and cautionary tales about others who have tried and well, it didn’t go so well for them. And the very ones who are being those voices of what feels like negativity are other believers.  Yes, the ones who know the staggering statistics of how many are dying and going to hell, the ones who know how few churches are out there and how many are needed, and those who have heard just how many orphans there are in the world and how few of us it would take to put them all into a family, and it’s those very people who work in churches, teach at seminaries, lead bible studies, and are known in their circles as mature believers with great wisdom. So it often takes us by surprise when those who know and who are the very ones we are expecting to jump on board, jump up and down with the possibilities and the dreams He’s put in our hearts, put their arms around us and pray…even if it’s through tears of their own fears and hesitations,  roll up their sleeves and start to help clear the brush from the trail ahead with us until we have to go the rest of the way without them trusting God will bring others to walk along side of us.

I know many would say they are just trying to offer a voice of wisdom. I’m not knocking wisdom…. I’m not. I’m a HUGE proponent in using Wisdom in regards to adoption. (more on that in another post) Wisdom is precious but we need to make sure that we are seeking God’s Wisdom based in who He is and the leadings He’s placed in our hearts… not human wisdom which can be based in fears, security in position and possessions and the unknowns that we long to somehow control as much as possible.  And often it’s God’s wisdom that looks like foolishness to those around it.

Often God uses people who do not seem qualified in the very areas they should be to accomplish His plans. Scripture is full of examples… Moses with his stutter would be the voice of the Israelite people, Joseph with his spoiled self would generously save his family and many nations from famine. David with his shepherding skills would slay giants and become King. Solomon with all his wives would share Wisdom that would guide believers for centuries to come and guide us today, Paul with his murdering heart and hatred of Believers would become one of the most read authors of Scripture and whose missional journeys impact why there is a church in your town today. Joshua, John the Baptist, Gideon, Noah, Jonah, Daniel, Esther, The Disciples, Mary, …. These people weren’t qualified to do what they did…. and what they did weren’t things that they could have even known how to be qualified for. But yet they changed history and were part of the grand story of the Gospel. Just by following what God was asking them to do and they did it.I’m not saying any of them didn’t count the cost… or worry… or argue with God about it…or even thought about possible outcomes once they agreed to obey. but I think that despite those things they had to ultimately trust God in the unknowns and for Him to come through on their behalf whatever was to glorify Him the most… even if that meant poverty, imprisonment, being misunderstood, and even death.

Often it’s the leap of faiths, the selling everything, the running into danger, the life will never be the same, the it doesn’t make sense or add up, the are we crazy, the no going back, the gamble of our children’s future, the hopefully the relatives will understand one day, the am I giving up on marriage, the billions of unknowns , It’s those things that make much of a powerful God and through His gospel change the world.  He’s leading/asking/calling you to do this and you know despite all the risks and how scary it seems that not to follow would be the greater risk and would feel much scarier to live knowing you stifled this burning urgent moving of the Spirit inside of you.

Amy Carmichael was a woman who spent 53 years overseas without furlough giving her life to caring for orphans (primarily in India) she had terrible health issues and hardly any support from home since her father left them very poor when he died when she was 18. But in Christian circles today she is quoted often and read much (she wrote over 35 books while in India). She impacted many lives with her life and has impacted millions since her death. All because as a young teen God moved in her heart as she felt compassion upon a little poor girl she saw in the marketplace who had no family.

God saw fit in His grand plan to take Moses from a godly family with a father, mother, sister and brother and to put him in the arms and family of a single woman who happened to be the pharaohs sister. BUT God did that to save him and to put him in a position where he could then be used in a mighty way to rescue His people from bondage.

The bible doesn’t go into detail about the situation surrounding how Esther became an orphan but I’m so glad that her cousin Mordecai took compassion and raised her as his own and again so that she could be in a place to be used of God to save His people from certain doom.

I could go through history and speak of people who accomplished incredible things, became presidents, invented things that changed our world, saved lives, and greatly impacted the kingdom of God because single men and women rose up to the challenge weather  they became single parents through tragedy, sorrow or by choice.

What if God wants to use the life of a single parent to save His people today? Who knows what God will do with the life of that little one when nurtured in a home that loves Jesus and isn’t afraid to do great things for His name sake.

One of my heros of the faith is a single girl named Katie… I’m sure you’ve heard of her because of her book Kisses from Katie. She abandoned all the great plans her parents had for her college years, gave up having a boyfriend, and left her nice decorated bedroom for the red dirt floors of Uganda and the life of a mama with 13 girls and a ministry to those who need her care and to countless school children who need support to get an education. The book is on the Lifeway top 20 shelf and is read by millions and would be a speaker that any church would love to have come speak to their people.  She just followed her heart and is trusting in her Saviors sustaining power each and every day. Her obedience though it rocked the world of so many she loved at home has impacted thousands if not millions and for sure has forever changed the life of 13 girls who were once orphans but now have a mama who daily points them to their heavenly father. I love THIS POST by Ann Voskamp about her time with Katie.

“People from my first home say I’m brave. They tell me I’m strong. They pat me on the back and say, ‘Way to go. Good job.’ But the truth is, I am not really very brave; I am not really very strong; and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am simply doing what God has called me to do as a person who follows Him. He said to feed His sheep and He said to care for ‘the least of these,’ so that’s what I’m doing, with the help of a lot people who make it possible and in the company of those who make my life worth living” 
― Katie J. Davis, Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption

 

It irks me to no end when I hear of a single woman or man here in America who has a steady job, probably even has bought a house,  has family who loves them, and is in a great community at church, and they want to adopt… or foster to adopt… or adopt from overseas, but then the people  in their lives start talking and giving warnings and bring up things that surely she/he hadn’t thought of before deciding to adopt.  People did that to us when we were telling them about adopting Abel… It was so hard to bite my tongue as people would say things like “you know he’ll be living with you for all his life” “are you sure you have time to devote to his special needs” “so you have the right training for this?”   As if we just up and decided one spring day that hey, we will adopt a kid with down syndrome and we know nothing about it.   I feel that’s often how good intentioned people can make those who are doing something more radical or less of the cultural norm feel.  If a single person is saying that they are wanting to adopt… trust me they have thought about it. They probably have read up on it… talked to people about it… prayed about it… imagined what it would be like… and honestly, are probably still scared about going forward but know that everything in them says they have to listen to what the Spirit is whispering to their heart. I don’t understand why it’s noble for a young lady to go and spend her life in an orphanage caring for orphans bettering their lives as much as one person spread out among many can, but it’s questionable for the same young lady to bring one of those orphans into her own home to raise and have lots of community and family help with.  To me… they are both beautiful acts of selfless love that the world will take notice of and ask why?

So….  how about instead of being the voice of reason when someone says they are feeling led to do something that we think might be a little crazy, let’s ask them to tell us more, let’s pray for them… rejoice and get giddy for them… let’s get on facebook and ask for the things they will be needing as a single parent… let’s throw them a shower… let’s offer to come paint the kids new room… let’s help with fund raisers… let’s get certified to babysit for them… let’s be the daddy influence or mommy influence …. let’s be the people of God and work together as hands and feet bringing the gospel and His unconditional love to this baby or child who just might be placed in that family because God is going to use him/her to do incredible things that he/she might not would have had the chance to were they not adopted by a single mommy or daddy. Let’s stop saying wouldn’t it bet better if a couple adopted or fostered this child and start rejoicing that there is someone right in front of you willing to do it alone when so many couples aren’t willing to do it together.  

I believe God is saying to us that real success is found in radical sacrifice. That ultimate satisfaction is found not in making much of ourselves but in making much of him. That the purpose of our lives transcends the country and culture in which we live. That meaning is found in community, not individualism. That joy is found in generosity, not materialism. And that Jesus is a reward worth risking everything for.

Indeed, the gospel compels us to live for the glory of God in a world of urgent spiritual and physical need, and this is a dream worth giving our lives to pursue.

- David Platt

I find that we often think in the here and now context… who will take the child to school if you have to work? Who will help you parent if you’re sick? How will you afford day care or really anything for them? It’s going to be twice as much work as a single.  BUT are we honestly concerned about that or are we more worried that it might require the church… You and Me… to actually sacrifice as well and be the one to help this single parent raise this child. Do we have a gospel understanding of what is actually required to raise a child. Because if you spent time in a lot of other countries you’d see that most everyone here in America are actually living in the midst of excess and materialism.  Let’s not think a movie star is more awesome for adopting as a wealthy single person and then think our sister in christ who lives down the road is giving up hope of getting married and rushing into parenthood when she mentions wanting to become a foster mom.

What if we looked down the road a little bit. What if we saw how much of a help that child will be to his mom when he’s a tall teenager and can do things that his mom can’t around the house…. what if we saw how protective that daddy would be to his growing son or daughter when before they had nobody watching out for them… what if we saw a son or daughter grow up and get married and take care of their mom when she can’t take care of herself.  What if we saw the opportunity for other single men and women to get a real glimpse of what pure religion is and see that blossom into attraction and feel led to fill the role of not only husband or wife but also as mother or father to that single parent family. What if we saw a single woman or man be the mother and father of generations to come who know the gospel of Jesus and bring untold amount of joy to that man or woman who once just went to work to pay for their house and car payment but longed for so much more. What if the rooms of that single mother or father’s house… that street where she lives… that town… that church… that school is the place where God will place a child who wasn’t there before  and who will grow up and change the world for His name and renown

What if?

Let’s start asking that in the context of what God could do today and in the years to come for His name sake and our Joy and stop worrying about the things that may or may not happen in the here and now that only stir up fears of the unknowns and unbelief in a sustaining God.

Here are several blogs of single friends of mine who have adopted and aren’t only raising 1 child as a single parent but 3 or more awesome kids! Check them out. They aren’t super heroes… they are just like you and me, but they have heard God whisper to them and they have listened and obeyed and while it’s not easy… I know they wouldn’t want any other life!      * Learning to Dance in the Rain *   <– I love her because we have little ones close in age who both have the love chromosome!      * Little Did I know *  <– great resource for wanting to adopt a child who has HIV   * Chosen Ones *  <– I’ve loved reading about her journey through adoptions and also as she is embracing becoming a special needs mama.

*I realize that this is my opinion based on how I understand scripture and understand the heart of God. I also realize that several prominent preachers or speakers and christian organizations that I’ve researched what they had to say would disagree with singles adopting. And many haven’t yet addressed the actual question.  And while I do respect many of them… I’m okay to agree to disagree with them on this issue.  

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He said. She said. { 31 Days of Adoption: Day 12 }

 

He said.

The Generational Effects of Adoption

Looking Back

Depraved Indifference

Adopting CJ

Romanticizing Adoption. Don’t do it.

She said:

Had I but known – Noel Piper

A great perspective from a little girl who was fostered then adopted and is now a mommy herself.

When the thread hangs out.

BEFORE  *  DURING  *  AFTER  *  BEYOND  *  AGAIN

Lessons learned about Toddler Adoption 

Kisses From Katie is the blog I go to whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed or lack focus

 

 

I LOVE THIS STORY!!!!!  Here is their family blog so you can follow along with their african adventures.

Bringing Home To Chloe from The Archibald Project on Vimeo.

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Thorns of Love { 31 days of Adoption : Day 11 }

 

“She bent forward to look, then gave a startled little cry and drew back. There was indeed a seed lying in the palm of his hand, but it was shaped exactly like a long, sharply-pointed thorn… ‘The seed looks very sharp,’ she said shrinkingly. ’Won’t it hurt if you put it into my heart?’

He answered gently, ‘It is so sharp that it slips in very quickly. But, Much-Afraid, I have already warned you that Love and Pain go together, for a time at least. If you would know Love, you must know pain too.’

Much-Afraid looked at the thorn and shrank from it. Then she looked at the Shepherd’s face and repeated his words to herself. ’When the seed of Love in your heart is ready to bloom, you will be loved in return,’ and a strange new courage entered her. She suddenly stepped forward, bared her heart, and said, ‘Please plant the seed here in my heart.’

His face lit up with a glad smile and he said with a note of joy in his voice, ‘Now you will be able to go with me to the High Places and be a citizen in the Kingdom of my Father.’

Then he pressed the thorn into her heart. It was true, just as he had said, it did cause a piercing pain, but it slipped in quickly and then, suddenly, a sweetness she had never felt or imagined before tingled through her. It was bittersweet, but the sweetness was the stronger. She thought of the Shepherd’s words, ‘It is so happy to love,’ and her pale, sallow cheeks suddenly glowed pink and her eyes shown. For a moment Much-Afraid did not look afraid at all.”

― Hannah Hurnard, Hinds’ Feet on High Places

 

This may seem like a strange post to put into an adoption series but I think it applies well. Many of us have come to the journey of adoption through very painful situations. In pretty much every adoption there is elements of pain and suffering and loss for someone. But like the thorn even though the pain is very real the blossoming of an adoption is so worth it and can heal many wounds.

Adoption is a picture of the Gospel.  We were once left to die, helpless in our sin, nothing appealing about us, having nothing to offer. BUT GOD reached down in His love and compassion and made us His own… heirs to a Kingdom! I love being around those who were saved out of really bad situations and those who felt they were too far gone for God to have ever saved them… but He did. I find there is this love for their savior that I often don’t experience. And His word says… ”For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.”  Luke 7:47.   I am just as in need of His forgiveness as any other person but I think there is something about the fact that some people have tasted sin and death in such a way that life and freedom when given to them is all the more sweeter.

Adoption is similar I think… I think when you’ve walked down dark valleys and through rocky paths and around steep bends I think that once you have that little one in your arms… it’s just sweeter. And over time…. deeper.

So Mama whose babies are stuck over in a country that is being ravaged by disease and malnutrition and you don’t know when you will get to bring them home… He does. He will sustain you and the lifetime you will have with these babies will be all the more sweeter.

Husband and wife who have tried month after month to conceive but haven’t and are almost out of ideas to try, money to spend and tears to shed… He hears and He collects everyone of those tears. You don’t understand now but one day you will look at a family photo and shudder to think what would your life be like without those sweet asian eyes or that deep chocolate skin against those white teeth that are smiling back at you.

Foster mom, you wonder if this child will ever act normal…. if they will ever stop rejecting your love… if you somehow messed up your other childrens lives by doing this… if you will ever get a child that will stay and become yours… if you are enough to help this child through his/her hurt….  Press into Him,  Let the thorn slip in, Embrace the pain knowing that you have access to the Healer and the Comforter and the giver of all Wisdom.

It was bittersweet, but the sweetness was the stronger.

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4 Common Myths about Adoption {31 days of Adoption : day 10 }

Having grown up around adoption… having parents who were adoption advocates… now being an adoption advocate as well as an adoptive parent, well I tend to listen to and get into a lot of conversations about adoption.  And I find that usually if someone hasn’t been around adoption much that they are always quick to give me a reason why they aren’t adopting… or are nervous about adopting… or are putting off adopting, mind you, there are valid reasons for all of those, I just am noticing that a lot of the reasons aren’t necessarily ones that are. In fact the reasons they offer tend to be ones that are more myths or very rare occurrences. So let’s shed some light on these fears and reasons and  talk about them.

1. It’s too expensive. It costs too much. You have to have a lot of money up front.  Why does it cost so much? It should be free! 

If I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this…. or a version of this, well… then I could probably adopt a lot of babies! ;)  I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it’s cheap to adopt, BUT I am going to tell you that it’s NOT too expensive. (and even if it were… we buy coffee ALL the time that is too expensive, but we deem it worth it.) Adoption does cost money. We live in a country… a world that uses a legal system, a social care system, a security system, a medical system, a postal system, a business system, a internet/website system, travel system, and a lot of things that without them… we couldn’t adopt. But they all cost money to use. We balk at paying a laywer thousands of dollars but never seem to mind that he invested thousands of hours studying law in order to legally make our child ours. We cringe at paying a birth mom’s medical bills but if given the opportunity to pay for a biological child’s medical bills, well that would just be a part of having a baby, We are shocked at the high cost of agency program fees but without the agency thousands of birth moms and hospitals and CPS wouldn’t have anywhere to turn to find families for children needing homes.  So really it isn’t that those things are too expensive it’s just the worth we are placing on them as they impact our wallets and lives.  If you showed me the cost of Zoe’s adoption lawyer before we knew about Zoe… I would have gasped and thought it a crime for someone to charge that much for anything…even initially in the process, it was tough to wrap our heads around.  BUT now that we have her and having had that man walk along side of us through that journey, I would have gladly paid him 10 times that much! He was skilled… knowledgeable… had the authority… He was worth it.

I think anyone who has adopted or is the process of adopting has greater insight to the scripture about the man who discovered a treasure in an empty field and went home and sold all he had (with joy he sold it all!!) then took the money and bought the field knowing what he was getting was far more valuable than anything he had let go of.  Yes, the story is about salvation… but I think it can ring true for those of us who know that once God awakens your heart to adopt then it’s with great joy we save, cut back on, sell, ask for, and work towards gaining a son or daughter, something much greater and joy giving than any earthly possession.

At first glance, looking at it as a whole, looking at it in our own strength and doing, looking at it apart from God…. I can totally see why we think “It’s too expensive”.  But as Believers… we get to look at things through a different lens!!

THIS is a blog post I wrote about that different lens as we encountered the financial side and struggles in adopting from Africa.  I think you will find it helpful if you are fighting fear on the financial/provision side of things.

After God so incredibly provided for Abel’s adoption in a matter of hours… well, Dan said  ”I’ll never let someone say in my presence “I can’t afford to adopt” without telling them about what a Big God we have!”

MYTH BUSTER: While many adoptions are expensive… the truth is that not ALL adoptions are.  In Domestic adoption special needs adoptions or sibling groups often are situations where agencies will do the adoption for little to no cost to you. Private adoptions can be really inexpensive depending on the situation. Jacks adoption only cost us about 3 thousand dollars.  Although finances should NEVER be the deciding factor when choosing to foster to adopt, when you do adopt from the foster system a lot of the costs are generally taken care of by the state. (if I remember correctly from what friends have told me, it still will probably cost you something to adopt out of foster care)

 

2. It takes too long. Doesn’t it take like 10 years to get a baby? I hear the wait is years for a placement. Friends of mine have been waiting for years and still no baby. I couldn’t have my heart in limbo that long. Isn’t there 100 steps to go through that take forever?  

I might not be the right one to address this one. ;) I have had moments where I actually feel guilty for how quick our adoptions have happened. With each adoption we have set in for the long haul only to be caught up in a whirlwind of a fast process. In fact our sweet social worker laughs and almost like a Dr. who delivered a baby that came fast tells their patient, has told us ” when it happens the next time, know I am close by and can be ready to help in a moments notice”. It’s just how God has orchestrated it for us. But I do know that it can take time… and each aspect does have it’s own timeline which at any time can be delayed or rushed or paused.

The past year I have learned something so valuable about time… it passes… it passes quickly. And before we know it we will have lived years and years and never have done much of anything that amounted to much. We have dreams but because we never do the little day to day things and never take the first of many steps… well, we never see the dream as achievable or always just see it as something that will happen someday.

I wish I could pair all the couples that say “one day we want to adopt, we will start the process then” with all the couples who have been wanting a baby and can’t have one or have been waiting month after month to have one or have been waiting years to get clearance to go get their child.  I think we live in a world where immediate gratification is king. I mean, let me have a day with slow internet and I turn into a bear! If we have to wait behind 2 cars in a drive-thru… ughh!!! we have so much and get it so fast. At least when it comes to things that satisfy short term.  BUT I’m finding that things that really matter, like love, like true understanding, like deep friendships, like growing a family… well, those take time and investment.  BUT the problem is when WE decide that it’s now the right timing for those important things… spouse, friendships, babies… well, we don’t want to make the investment, we wanted it yesterday and are now very impatient because it’s taking so long to happen.  Because we spent so many years enjoying the here and right now, we didn’t set out for the long haul and we didn’t live our lives today for how we wanted our lives to look in 3…4…5…10 years from now.

I wish all the couples saying “one day” would actually start the process to adopt from India or Hati, knowing that it will take years to accomplish but knowing that the “one day” version of themselves will be so happy they started today. I wish they would ask themselves what it is that they are living for and waiting on that trumps welcoming a child into their family who has none.

I wish all the couples wanting a baby yesterday would ask themselves if they are wanting the baby they want or the baby that God may be wanting to give them. Because while fertility treatments aren’t often successful and white healthy babies are harder to come by in adoption circles…  There is a great need for those willing to adopt bi-racial babies or african american children. I get emails and calls about them often. There are countries that are new to opening up to adoption and while the terrain might be rocky… the process is quick!

So, while time can be a factor… it’s one that I think far too many offer as a reason to not do anything. I promise the 3-4 years you wait here in your comfortable safe healthy life… is far better than the 3-4 years an orphan waits in a land that is unsafe and might be slowly killing them.  And friend… I can’t tell you how awesome the feeling is when you get a call about a need… about a baby who has just been born… and your heart is moved… you know this is the time… and you’re able to respond being READY having taken the time to prepare and do the little steps leading up to this moment.  It’s incredible. Believe me…. that can be you! Don’t wait… do something today.

MYTH BUSTER: the length of time really depends a lot on how fast you’re willing to do things like fill out forms, go to classes, raise money, etc.. It also depends on again, what type of adoption you’re looking to have. Private adoptions tend to happen faster, newborn adoptions tend to happen faster. 9 months may feel like a long time… but it’s really not, even if it’s one of those things that you have to go through a few times in order to get to come home with a baby. Time passes quickly! Countries that are newer to the adoption world tend to happen faster because they often don’t have a ton of steps to go through that get developed and added over time. Countries that have been doing adoptions for a long time then stop then start again tend to have quicker turn arounds… like China and Ethiopia are fairly quick processes right now. (2013)

3.Adoption is so risky. It could end in heartbreak. So many birthmothers change their minds at the last minute. What if the country closes? I don’t think I could hope and go through a failed adoption. You don’t know the medical history behind the child. What if my child dies before I get them out of their country? What if the adoptive parents want to come back and get their child years after we adopt them? 

Oh friend… LOVE is always risky.

Blogger Tim Challis says “The best life is a risky life. Really, I am convinced there is not much worth doing that doesn’t involve at least some measure of risk. A lifetime of always making the safest choice is an unrealistically boring and plodding life. We risk when we love, we risk when we live. To love any person is to risk—it is to risk your heart, to make yourself vulnerable to another. To love God is to risk—it is to risk your very life, to make yourself willing to do whatever it is that the Lord commands. Simply to live is to risk; we do not know what the next day, or even the next moment will bring. Yet we value our safety and so often run from risk, living our lives within the most comfortable boundaries.”

I get it. It’s only human to not want to put our heart somewhere where we know there is a chance that it could be squeezed, punched and torn in two. Attaching to the idea of a little one and going through all the paperwork and emotional prep to bring that baby home only to have the birthmom change her mind at the last minute, well that is painful. that is tough. that seems like it would be unbearable. But it’s not when you are looking through the lenses of truth. I think that at the heart of every adoptive parent should be the understanding and hope that every child would hopefully be able to be raised by their birthparents. Now, do birthmoms who wouldn’t be best to raise that child change their minds and keep their baby? Yep they do. But it’s in those moments that yes, you grieve what might have been and morn your hopes and plans, but you also recognize that God put both that baby and that birthmom in your life…. for a reason. You might not be raising that child up to call you mom but you might be a huge influence over their life as that mom continues to have a relationship with you when possible.

Do children die before you get to them… yes. Do children die after you spent 2 years adopting them from another country… yes…. a heartwrenching yes.  Do children adopted sometimes have diseases or conditions that you didn’t know about or feel like you signed up for… Yes.  But would those adoptive parents tell you that if they knew it would unfold in that way would they do it again? I know they would all say YES!!  You see, it’s kind of like trying to explain a love for your child to someone who doesn’t have children. They can hear and see but they can’t fully understand what that type of love is like until they experience it for themselves. (doesn’t mean they are lacking as a person, it just means they don’t know what it’s like.)

So, in some ways Adoption is a leap of faith knowing that theses fears and worries and concerns and situations and unknowns will be worth it all when you are on the other side of the journey of adopting a child. And looking back each unexpected twist and turn… every heartbreak… every delay, well they are all part of the story that brought you to your child.

Regarding possible unforseen medical history issues, I love how blogger Lynsay says it  “Most married couples have biological children. They trust God for wisdom on how to love, teach, and nurture their children, with no other guarantee of what problems they will face in the future with their child, medically, emotionally, physically.  Yet over and over we hear the excuse that adopted and fostered children have too many problems.  Why can we not trust this same God with the future of adopted and fostered children?”

I think sometimes we are so fearful of getting something dealt to us that we didn’t sign up for…. we want control, or at least as much of it as humanly possible. But what if that’s not what is what a good and loving and all knowing God would deem best for us. We trust Him to secure our eternal salvation and our forevermore and trust Him to have the power to save us from every sin we’ve ever committed but yet, we remain fearful that He can’t handle a possible health issue that might come up in adopting a child who we don’t have generations of medical background for. And while that is nice to have… MOST of the issues I’ve had to deal with or my husband or even my 5 adopted children health wise have had nothing to do with family history. SO I call MYTH BUSTER on this one!!

Dating someone always has a risk of being hurt and having heartbreak but yet millions of us have taken that risk in the belief that something greater and worth taking the chance because love is worth it.

MYTH BUSTER: Sometimes I think we feel adoption is risky because we can’t imagine having a love that expands to fit the plan that God is writing for our lives vs. the plan we have in our minds. We take risks all the time, every day… several times a day, but I think if there were one thing that would be worth risk… even great risk, it would be out of the love for a child and the belief that the capacity of the heart can expand as wide as it needed to in order to love all those God has placed in your path. Will there be hurt? Possibily. But oh, there will also be great love that will make the hurt something you would go through again and again for the sake of that love!

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4. Overseas adoption is unethical and takes kids away from their parents.

I’m so thankful this issue is getting talked about and good agencies aren’t shying away from educating about. It would take me a long time to come up with a more condensed way of blogging about this so I’m just going to link you to Jen Hatmakers Series on this subject. I think that you’ll find it super helpful and good to know.

Examining Adoption Ethics: Part One

Examining Adoption Ethics: Part Two

Examining Adoption Ethics: Part Three

I’m linking you to these posts because I trust her research and writing and I know her heart for the orphan and adoption is true!

There are a lot of articles out there written saying that Christians are pretty much buying stolen children in the name of Jesus. Recently a friend of mine came across such a post and wrote me in a panic saying how could she ever be a part of something so horrible as that. But in a closer look at the article… it was written ironically in a very unethical way… quoting people wrongly, stealing screenshots of legit adoptive families facebooks and dragging them through the mud, accusing them of unethical adoptions, Not contacting the good agencies, not taking the time to really search out the truth because he was too busy trying to make Christians look terrible and unethical. So in reading… just be careful what you read and make sure they are backing up their information with legitimate concerns and reliable sources. And that their top concern is for the orphan.

I love this quote J.Hatmaker wrote in Part One:

I simply believe it is time to take our good hearts and add our good minds. Adoption is the worst place to enter armed with nothing but good intentions. Rather than get swept up in emotional jargon and moving videos, we must move forward soberly, carefully, thoroughly, setting any agenda aside and working like hell to protect children, birth families, communities, and the kingdom.

Dear Ones, again, adoption is complicated and nuanced, and corruption does not apply to every situation obviously. There are clearly scenarios dripping with abuse, neglect, total abandonment, and bad parents, which exist in every country. Orphans are real and some kids really need families, and I personally know scads of your above-board stories. So many of our kids had no option for reunification or extended family or in-country adoption.

Discussing unethical adoptions, I am not saying always; I am saying sometimes, and if there is a sometimesin the mix, then we must go on high alert. We have to. We cannot simply hope we have no part in thesometimes

…we must insist on the never.

MYTH BUSTER:  Doing nothing doesn’t help the ethical issues that can be present in adoption. Saying I’m not going to adopt at all because they might have been kidnapped doesn’t fix anything… in fact it does more harm.  You can adopt and go in with knowledge and be a part of the change that is needed. You can adopt a true orphan and know that you’re truly giving a child a home who would never had had one otherwise.  You can change the future… one ethical above board adoption at a time.

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