Friday, February 26, 2010

Dear Hopeless~(long)

Dear Hopeless~
This is my response to a recent post titled “Meant to Be.” I will warn you that it is based solely on my faith and my experience, not a seminary education, countless hours of research or gathering statistics. I’m a little busy raising my eight children, but I do make time to gather information about things that are important to me. I also have found that I can’t be a woman of faith and NOT apply it to everything I do. For that reason I would not be allowed to post a response on the original site.

Despite my fear of conflict or confrontation, I am compelled to share my heart by Mark 8:38 where Jesus clearly states that if we are ashamed of Him or His words in this age, then He surely will be ashamed of us when we appear before the Father in glory.

After reading the post twice, I think the point of it is this: As adoptive parents we should consider the messages our children get from the things we say to them. While we may mean one thing, our children may get a different message. There is a story of a young adult adoptee who is ‘miffed’ at God for her adoptive parents telling her she was ‘meant to be’ their child. Apparently, she has surmised that if God planned for her to be their child, He must have planned the death of her birth parents. Then there is a reminder of blogs of adult adoptees who are also ticked off about being adopted, a link about advice and then the advice of not telling our kids they were ‘meant to be’ ours.

So if I’ve correctly gotten the point of the post, which many were accused of missing, then I have drawn a few conclusions.

First, we simply can’t take God out of adoption when He is the author of adoption! Once created, we chose the path of independence, and He has promised not to leave us as orphans, but receive us as His children. Not that He has a hand in making orphans of children. On the contrary, He brings beauty from the ashes. He takes the rubble we make and uses it for good! He created us with one flaw, a will of our own. But what kind of god would create us and then force us to do anything, good or bad? I know there’s the age-old question of ‘if God is so good, how can he allow so many bad things to happen?’ He is not evil and doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but because He has given us a choice, we will cause bad things to happen to satisfy our own desires. Does that mean the mother whose baby has died has done something wrong? No! Does it mean the teenager killed in a car accident did something wrong? No! Does it mean the ‘good’ person who dies of cancer has done something wrong? No! But God will take that untimely death, that tragedy, that disease, and use them for good by allowing those close to receive peace and comfort if they choose. He will even bring others to depend on Him through such events. In the unthinkable, in the lose/lose circumstances is when we realize our own mortality and frailty, our lack of control. And that is often when we turn to Him, perhaps not even understanding Who He is, but knowing we need something bigger than ourselves. Only through a relationship with Him can we slightly begin to understand His love for us. When we view tragedy and loss, we can only see it as through a small, clouded window with limited perspective. There’s no way we can fully comprehend why things happen. But when we trust Him, we understand that His plans are for good. He rights the wrongs we commit. He works all things for the good of those who love Him. There is a perpetual plan in motion. Our simple minds cannot fathom the goodness that will come from the disasters.

It won’t do any good to ‘spout’ Scripture because the Bible says it is nonsense to those who don’t believe. So what can we do? How about pull up our boot straps and be the believers we are intended to be instead of cowering in the corner, waiting for someone else to do the job? When we become believers, we are no more ‘perfect’ than we were before! We still have that same will and natural tendency toward self as before. But the difference is that we now have power! We have the power of the Holy Spirit which allows us to communicate with our Father, to overcome our selfish desires, to distinguish the difference between right and wrong and step out in faith, knowing we are incapable…even though we still have the ability to choose.

Second, I seriously doubt the reason this young person is so miffed is solely because of the use of the phrase ‘meant to be.’ Anyone who has raised teenagers understands there is a time when they may search for who they are and how they fit in, regardless of whether they look like their parents or not. There comes a time for us to explore our own beliefs. We can embrace what our parents have taught us, question what they’ve taught, perhaps even discover their teaching was wrong, or we can wander aimlessly, convincing ourselves we are victims of somebody’s wrongdoing. As a believer later in life, I had a lot of catching up to do and it was natural for me to question things that just didn’t seem right according to Scripture. One such time I asked a person who had grown up in church, “Do you believe what you just heard? Because it doesn’t sound right to me.” She said, “I don’t know; I’ve just always thought it was true because I’ve heard it before.” We can’t inherit salvation from our parents. It isn’t handed down like a birthright. And just because something is said a lot doesn’t make it true! Like we tell our youth, “Don’t believe it cuz I say it; check it out in the Bible and see for yourself.”

Third, we need to know what we believe and why we believe it! I have felt this burden ever since I became a youth leader. When our kids graduate and leave the safety of home, I desperately want them to be grounded. Our 21-year-old son is attending college and living out his faith (even though he’s sportin’ a Mohawk after a year of shaving his head – wadupwidat?) despite living across the hall from Satanists and professors who won’t accept his papers because of their unbelief. He’s able to do this, not because we are such good parents, but because he knows what he believes and why he believes it.

Fourth, God can handle us being miffed at Him. My dad lived most of his 62 years miffed at God because his mother died when he was five and then some horrible things that happened after that. I loved my dad, and I’m thrilled to say that he is now in Heaven because he accepted Christ just weeks before he passed away. But he wasted most of his life living in despair, trying to understand what had happened and becoming the victim of his past. That was the tumultuous environment I grew up in, and yet I didn’t run from God or choose not to believe because horrible things had happened. I probably would have accepted Christ at a younger age if I had heard about Him. But God used all the rotten things that happened in my dad’s life and mine to bring me to a place of accepting His invitation. Bottom line, there comes a time when we just gotta put on our big people panties and grow up.

Finally, there is food for thought in this post. Even though I don’t think we’ve ever used the exact phrase ‘meant to be’ with our adopted children, we have shared God’s faithfulness and miraculous hand in bringing them home. It’s true that we gained from another’s loss. Our gain did not cause another’s loss, and maybe that’s what we need to make sure our children understand. In essence, God came along and picked up the broken pieces to make something whole again. There will be pain and perhaps scars. Our responsibility as parents is to share our faith with our children and allow them the freedom to share their pain with us. That starts early. As soon as our children come home we begin to share their ‘story’ at an appropriate level, such as talking about God whispering to our hearts and eventually boarding a plane to meet our child. It sounds like a fairytale, and many know it’s not. But if you think for one second I’m going to portray to my child that the adoption journey is about the tragedy of brokenness, countless hours of paperwork, hundreds of thousands of dollars, sleepless nights, undiagnosed medical needs and giving up some of life’s pleasures, you’re wrong! Those might be part of the journey, but they are not THE journey. The One who led us down the path will also help us parent each of our children and will give them a heart to see His goodness, if they choose.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that leaves us looking for someone to blame and something to believe in. I urge you to ask yourself, at the end of the day if everything I have placed my hope in has crumbled and everyone I have placed my hope in has failed me, what will I hope for? Who will restore me? There is only One, and He proclaims that one day every knee will bow…

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Dear Orphan~

I saw your photo today. You are so adorable!
You're eyes are so deep and full of hope.

I love your little smile,
I know it must be hard some days to find
the strength to smile.
I have heard how little food you have,
but you are still willing to share
with your friends.
What a sweet little person you are!

But, I am writing this letter to tell you that I will
not be able to help you.
You see, my family is happy with the life we
are living.
I know that we could get bunk beds and you could
share a room with one of our bio kids,
but really,
that is no life for either of you.
We have so much going on around here and
life would just be too chaotic.
Our neighbors just got a new TV and game system,
we really think we need to have one too.
I have a 'ladies night out' next week and
I have nothing to wear.
I really need to purchase a new outfit.
I guess I could sponsor you...
it will have to wait til next month,
I really need that new outfit
and my kids are dying for some fast food tonight.
Good luck to you!
(Thank you, Jodi, for letting me copy this post)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Knee Time

My heart is greatly troubled today! I'm reading about the severe persecution in Ind*a. Not from long ago, but today. Believers, pastors and miss*onaries are being beaten like animals and murdered for their faith. Some are so scared they are struggling to keep their faith. They are asking for prayer.

That's something we can all do.

As I read and watch videos about Ind*a, I realize persecution isn't just happening there, but all around the world, every single day. The images cause me to think of my Savior taking the walk to Calvary...for me! This stops me in my tracks as I think about the freedom I have to worship, to serve, to pray... and yet I take it so lightly, for granted even.

Yes, my heart is troubled. Maybe we are not able to 'go,' but we are certainly able to bow.

Will you join me today in praying for our brothers and sisters around the world? As Paul asked for prayer, so are our brothers and sisters today.

"I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there..." Romans 15:30-31

May we recognize the urgency, stop in our busy tracks and bow our hearts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

No Hands But Ours

We shared our miracle adoption story on No Hands But Ours!

I just want to add that I'm so grateful that we are 'meant to be' family and 'I am blessed.' Just sayin...


Gung Hay Fat Choy!
We celebrated CNY with our local families
Some of the kiddos...from my bad angle

Kolton and Alyssa
April and Kinley
On Saturday Kenzie tried out her Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe ~ yummy!

Don't overmix, and fill the cups just right...
Beautiful...and yummy too!
I hope you had an awesome weekend too!

Friday, February 19, 2010

School & Silliness

Good morning, my two early birds!
Goldfish, Dora and the Dynamic Duo!
Snaps from last weekend. I can't even describe how much fun we had. There were 7 families with 33 kids!
Making Valentine and Chinese New Year cards
Happy Feet! Kambry has the cutest feet anyway, but add a little glitter ... and oh my!
Kambry's CNY fireworks
Kayden's fireworks

"Don't look at me like you're gonna take my Doritos..."
Decorating tables maybe?
Food! Food! Food!
Catching up
Scooter races
And finally, school! I had to pay him to take this picture :)
Last weekend was so fun! Thank you, Brad and Kim, for planning, cooking and putting us up. I'm still amazed we got to church on time (9:15!) with 13 kids! My church family is shocked - lol.
It was such a blessing to meet internet friends and revisit old friends.

In school news, we've completed another week! By Monday afternoon the teacher was ready to retire...but I think the student now understands who's the boss and has had an attitude adjustment, resulting in a very productive Tuesday through Friday :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Kinley Grace

I admit I've failed to give regular updates on Kinley's progress - sorry! As you may recall from our adoption site, she was less than pleased when handed to her new parents. I'm happy to say she thinks we're the bomb now! I mean, we totally rock in her eyes. Okay, you get the idea.

Kinley's reported medical need was cleft lip, repaired. However, her hard palate is cleft, and she has some speech issues. We have our first consult in March.

She repeats much of what we say and understands everything! I'm seriously amazed when I say, "Take your shirt to the hamper," and she does it!

This week she's started singing songs from Veggie Tales and nursery rhymes She's 34 inches tall and weighs all of 26 pounds.

As long as she gets a nap, snack and three squares she's one happy camper. She's become incredibly social and confident. Now that is amazing! She seems ready for potty training...but the mom, not so much.

How blessed I am!

I probably would have some really cute pictures of her from this weekend if my awesome friends with those cool cameras send me some - lol!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Road Trip

We're outa here! We are headed to another state for a few short days to gather with families who look like ours (maybe not quite as dorky). Some we have spent time with and others we have the privilege of meeting for the first time. I'm so excited about it I'm gonna call it a vacation :)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Progress Report

Some have asked how Kooper's home schooling is going, so it's high time for a progress report.
School has been in session for three and a half weeks, and this has been the best one by far! We start at 8:30 and are finished around 3.
Since we've started, he:
can say the alphabet
write the alphabet in caps and lower case
count and write to 100
is reading Bob Books 5-8
is reading his first real book ever
is almost finished with Section 1 of Rosetta St*ne
is reading one story per day and explaining it to us from the Chinese/English Children's Story Bible
is learning multiple digit subtraction using borrowing and carrying
is doing 100 timed math fact sheets
has learned the nouns in the living room and is working on the kitchen
is not using the translator
is still learning how to treat the teacher and follow instructions - lol
...let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Heb 12:1

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


I wrote this weeks ago. I intended to post it, but the time was never right. I may have shared parts of it in random posts since then, but here's the original entry, followed by what the Lord has done since then:

My heart is overflowing with joy. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances. This is how I know it’s not ‘happiness,’ but true ‘joy.’ Today is really no different from yesterday, except for perspective. In fact, since I started writing this, my days have been very challenging.

God has done a lot of pruning in my heart’s garden over the last few weeks, and now I can taste the fruit.

God has reminded me time and again of his unconditional love, complete forgiveness and sacrifice for me – even.when.I.rejected.Him. – and even now, when I am so undeserving, so full of fault and so selfish. He has great plans for me. His grace is boundless. If He can endure so much for me, surely He can carry me through the difficult seasons of my life.

In our recent Beth Moore study we were reminded that our Father doesn’t just grant joy and peace for eternity, for some time in the future when our circumstances may be better… He grants it moment by moment. He can restore us in an instant.

There’s a song I heard recently, and it reminds me of that very thing. I will share the chorus with you:

…”So baby don't look down, it's a long way. The sun will come around to a new day. So hold on. Love will find you. Hold on. He's right behind you now. Just turn around and Love will find you… Maybe you can't see 'round the corner? To hang between two thieves in the darkness, Love must believe you are worth it.”

It just seems to fit. No matter where we are, no matter what we’re waiting for, no matter how bad it seems, Love will find us.

At this time we never know what a day will bring…not just because we’re not the ones ultimately in control, but because we have another teenager who demonstrates control over the few things he can: his attitude; his words; his level of cooperation. Our schedule is structured but with enough flexibility to allow spontaneity. And you know what I’ve realized: we will get through this. We will not just get through, but we will come out victorious! God will mold us into the parents He created us to be.

I believe that nothing happens by accident. I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary. All this to say that it’s no accident that just over a year ago, three months after coming home with Kaeleb, God revealed we would become a family of nine. The paper process took much longer than expected, not by accident. As soon as it was complete, we were burdened beyond escape for older children. By no accident, one week later, we received Kooper’s referral and Kinley’s soon after that.

And that’s really the point I want to make. The more time we spend in God’s Word, the more we understand His heart. The more we become broken for the things that break His heart.

I don’t believe God intends the chaos, destruction, misdirection (yes, it’s a word – my word – lol!)….but I do believe He intends to change us, His children, because of it. We’re all so busy; we have so much responsibility; we’re hauling our kids from one activity to another; we’re shopping for bargains; the wind is blowing; the wind isn’t blowing… there are a million reasons believers don’t hear from our Father. We are so focused on the things that really make no difference that we fail to recognize the thing that does – surrender.

Surrender goes against everything our society prescribes! Only when we surrender do we have the courage to jump out of the boat. I don’t want to look back to the boat; I don’t want to look to the shore beyond; I want to focus on the Father, who has plans of fruitfulness for me. And all I have to do is abide in Him, obey Him, trust Him. The fruit He produces has nothing to do with me! The more I seek Him, the more He confides in me.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7

One of my favorite passages is Psalm 27:4 ~ One thing I ask of the Lord; this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.

Last week an incredible thing happened. I’ve been praying for weeks for very specific things to happen. One morning He changed my prayer. I asked Him to refresh my spirit, to only glorify Him in that day no.matter.what.

Being as naïve as I am, I thought it would be a fantastic day, no struggles, smooth sailing. The day was far from smooth. In fact, it was one of the worst days in months. I had the chance to live out what I had asked God to do in me! But God, how can I do this? But God was there! God granted me every ounce of grace and strength to endure. He constantly reminded me of our time together earlier that day. And I kept saying to Him: At the end of this day, I want to have honored you.

It’s one day I can truly say that happened! He revealed so much to me that day. He is using my circumstances to grow me, to show me how to love the people with character traits I don’t like, to do things I never imagined I could do (and certainly couldn’t on my own!).

For weeks I prayed for joy and thought I finally possessed it ...and then my family woke up – lol! That day I experienced true joy. I don’t ever want to look back to the boat. I want Him to cultivate the joy He has given me.

Maybe He has done the same for you, dear friends! I would love to hear about it!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Welcome Home, Emily!

At 10:30 last night a group of friends gathered to welcome another precious child home! Welcome home, David, April, Ashley, Kaylee and Emily!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Goin' on a Date!

I couldn't remember what the word meant... so according to Webster's:
a social appointment, engagement, or occasion arranged beforehand with another person

So my husband of 24.5 years and I have a social appointment. No children invited :)
Andy and Christina, you rock!

Love this Song

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Going to the Dentist ~ Update

Today is Kooper's first dental appointment. He will have a baby tooth removed in preparation for orthodontics.
I took him to Kenzie's last appointment so he could meet the dentist and see that there's nothing to be afraid of.
He knows he's going.
He knows why.
I'm glad we're going at 8...maybe there won't be very many people in the office when he screams at the mere thought of pain.
If we all live to tell about it, I'll let ya know how it went :)
We made it, without incident! His teeth were cleaned - for the first time in his life, and the dentist decided to let him wiggle the tooth some more since we won't be going to ortho until Kolton's braces are paid off for another six months.
And now on to school, which seems like a pleasant routine - lol! (did I say that????)

Monday, February 1, 2010

You Know Better

Ah, the words of a mother. In my childhood I often heard my mother say, "You know better than that!" And now as a mom, I find myself saying the same thing...a lot! Especially in the last three months. Trouble is, the person I'm saying it to really doesn't know better.

He's never been taught to know better. He doesn't know the Source of better knowledge.

I can't tell you the number of times in China we were told, "Your son has a good heart."

I beg to differ. He may have a kind heart, a gentle heart, but no heart is good until it has been washed by the blood of Jesus.

We can encourage growth and change, but there is no change that is lasting unless the heart is transformed.

It is this realization that has caused us to change our prayers. We probably all know people who have kind hearts and do good things. And we probably even know people who have good hearts and don't always do the kind thing (guilty!)

Unless our hearts have been transformed by the Father, our acts of kindness are just that ~ acts. They are not inspired by the Source of mercy, grace, love and hope. They are limited, limited by our own ability to extend kindness.

My challenge for today ~ how will I be Jesus to my son in hopes that one day He will receive the Gift which will give him a good that he truly will know better?
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 36:26

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