Aging Out

Fourteen got me thinking.

My son Sam, adopted at age 6 from China, turns 14 today.  He is an amazing boy and I’m so very privileged to be the one he calls mom.  He is sensitive, sweet, funny, thoughtful and so much more.  He also has some developmental delays and learning disabilities.  We didn’t know that last part when we brought him home at age 6 but we rolled with it and found him the help he needed.

He has enriched and blessed all who know him. At school, in the neighborhood, and at church he is well known and loved. I can’t imagine life without my Sam. So we have been celebrating his birthday for the past few days, keeping it low key though no big party.  Dinner with the family one night, cake at school last Friday, and today his regular activities with a little extra attention. All happy events marking his 14th birthday.

For an orphan living in a Chinese orphanage turning 14 is not as happy an event. Fourteen marks the age you are no longer eligible for adoption.  Most of the children who have not been adopted by age 14 have either physical or cognitive special needs. They are allowed to stay in the orphanage and continue their education or seek employment but life is not easy. The stigma of the orphan follows them out of the orphanage. They are considered unlucky or cursed.

This article on the Love Without Boundaries website explains the difficulties for the older orphan who is no longer adoptable who must stay in China. It’s hard to fight the cultural stigma and come out on top.

Adopting older children is not always easy but for those who do it there are many rewards not only for the adoptee but the family as well. DSC_2623

Sam may have had someone else step up to adopt him had we not but there are still lots of children who don’t get adopted before their 14th birthday.  Below I am highlighting different adoption agencies and the advocacy work they are doing for older and special needs children.

If you have a heart for the orphan or have considered older child adoption please check out the links below and the sweet children available for adoption. Adopting is not the only way to help the orphan, if you are not able to bring a child into your home there are still ways to help.  Advocacy and financial donations so that others can adopt are just two.

http://www.nohandsbutours.com/children-wait/

http://adoptedbydesign.typepad.com/blog/

http://www.awaa.org/wc/default.aspx

http://www.lovewithoutboundaries.com/

If you’ve adopted older children I’d love to hear your story please comment or contact me.  Or if you know of other organizations advocated older child adoption let me know.

 

 

Survival of the Redeemed

What is natural selection?

Natural selection is the idea that the fittest survive and pass along their traits to their offspring.

This is the science memory sentence that brought tears to my eyes last Friday.  It’s part of the memory work that our Classical Conversations co-op introduces each week in the elementary years.  The tutor asked the children if they knew what a trait was. Most knew and explained that it’s like getting your green eyes from your father or your dark hair from your mother.  That’s what did it that’s what brought the tears to my eyes.

My daughter, adopted from China, who sat in that class, has no way of knowing from whom she inherited her traits. And in that moment it seemed very unfair. I had to walk out of the room and dry my tears.

Her beautiful strong body, gorgeous black almond shaped eyes, and long dark shiny hair, all traits passed on through the genetics of an unknown parentage. My son too with his happy expressions, kind gentle heart and slight build, traits passed on from people he does not remember.

DSC_0058

What an injustice to be ripped away from your mother immediately after birth to spend the first year of life in an orphanage to then be ripped away from your country and heritage and placed in a family with unfamiliar traits.   There are consequences to the disruptions in nurturing. To varying degrees all orphans suffer attachment issues, altered brain chemistry, delayed development and emotional trauma.

I had little understanding of that when we were in process to adopt my two youngest children. Oh I knew that my children from China were abandoned and I had read much on parenting adopted/hurt children.  In a cursory way I understood their loss of family was an injustice of the Chinese culture. I’ve come to understand in a deeper way though how hurt and loss always precedes every adoption and carries over into the new family.  I’ll never know completely, personally, how that loss feels yet I experience the effects it has on my children.

My daughter was abandoned as a newborn girl, my son as a weak sickly child of 11 months.  One might say that my daughter was one of the fittest, but you couldn’t say that of my son. According to natural selection he shouldn’t have survived.

I don’t understand why suffering has to precede adoption. The injustice my children’s lives began with is just a small sampling of the atrocities of our  broken world. As a Christian I know we live in a fallen world and I can’t get too caught up in the “why God?’s” .

This is what I do know: God  is a redeemer, a healer, an advocate. He places the lonely in families(Psalm 68:6), He defends the cause of the fatherless(Deuteronomy 10:18), He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds (Psalm 147:3), He raises the needy from the ash heap (Psalm 113:7) And He adopts all who believe, grafting us into His eternal family giving us all a hope and a future.

But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;[a]
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

Lamentations 3

Natural selection has little to do with my children’s survival. God’s steadfast love and redemption has everything to do with not only their survival but their living full happy lives.

10353294_10203046913669671_783763217776243734_o

 

 

 

 

Winsome Dreams

Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.

Psalm 40

Joy is my word, the word I want to define my life this year and every year there after.  I’m leaning into to joy and am learning more about this state of being that is sometimes elusive.

I started the year memorizing Psalm 16 with a friend. It’s a Psalm that meets me  right where I am, starting with what my friend described as a primal cry for help.  “Keep me safe O God, for in you I take refuge.”  I repeat this often, willing myself back into the presence of God where, according to verse 11, there is joy.

You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

In February I registered for the Winsome Retreat  I had never heard of this retreat but a Facebook friend posted about it  and I jumped at the chance after reading this on the “about” page:

Why Winsome? Because we all want to be!
It literally means {JOY} some.
And who doesn’t want some joy?

We’re not talking about circumstantial, bubbly, fragile joy, but deep, strong, messy, right-here joy. In these circumstances, good or bad.

Joy that not only brings happiness on our good days but sustains us through our worst.

Join us this April for a weekend of discovering joy!

The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.
~ Frederick Buechner

God has designed you with a unique purpose. He has placed His dreams in your heart. And there is no greater JOY than discovering that purpose, walking in these God-sized dreams, and bringing His love, truth, and justice to a waiting world.

Wow! …discovering that purpose, walking in these God-sized dreams and bringing His love, truth, and justice to a waiting world.

This is what I’ve been delving into the past couple of years. Purpose, dreams, justice, truth…which all lead to joy! I knew I had to go. The timing was perfect a week after Easter, a week after a 40 day fast from some things to feast on others (like God’s word) prepared my heart for this retreat.

And Winsome did not disappoint! I’ve been back a week now and I’m still on that after-retreat-high; pondering the messages shared, remembering the beautiful scenery, so very thankful for the new friends made.

God met me at this retreat. Things I’ve been pondering for months, maybe years  were given voice. Areas of desire that I buried were unearthed.

IMG_4978
We were spoiled with Winsome goodies.

At Winsome I met and heard women step out in faith and courage to tell their stories, their hard in the pit stories, and follow their dreams and were encouraging others to do the same.

Holley Gerth showed us how to find our God-sized dream, which she says is finding more of what God has for you, by finding the place where our service to others, our strengths and our skills intersect. This is very practical! I know many women that have naturally entered into their God given purpose the path has seemed so clear for them. While I’m sure I’m in God’s will and have some big areas where that’s obvious I’m entering a season where I need encouragement to follow my desires and believe God has more for me now.

I’ve read many books in the past year about finding purpose, taking risks and telling our stories (which has many benefits to ourselves and our hearers) that have tilled the soil of my soul so that this message of finding and following our God given dreams fell on fertile ground and gave me the validation I needed to think about giving dormant dreams wings.

Kim Hyland, the winsome women behind the retreat, in her final message answered the questions I had about following dreams. It was uncanny how she accurately described how I feel when entertaining desires of the heart.  I view it suspiciously, knowing my heart is selfish and greedy. I have either ignored or indulged by inklings. But the question I had been mulling is don’t I have the mind of Christ?

Why yes, yes I do. I am a Christian who has been made new:

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. 15The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 16for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord

so as to instruct him?”d

But we have the mind of Christ.

1 Corinthians 2

Kim encouraged us by reminding us that our Father wants to meet us in our desire. He planted our desires there.  When we are seeking God we can trust His leading.

I think Amy at be-loved in blue jeans, though has put it best for me. I feel commissioned. Commissioned to go and tell.  Not sure exactly where the path will lead but I’ll step out and ask God to search my heart orchestrate the timing and give me the words.

Saturday night at Winsome there was an extended time of worship and prayer and I was reminded of Psalm 40. If you have time read through the whole Psalm slowly.

 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.
I desire to do your will, my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

I’m on solid ground and I have desires, dreams, things I want to do, and people I want to serve. I’ve found the validation I need to go for it. I’m seeking God to determine what the next step is and asking for His provision and clear guidance as I draw near to Him.

Join me will you?  Find your dream! Here are some other blogs, books and resources to help you on your way:

http://www.amazon.com/Youre-Made-God-Sized-Dream-Opening/dp/080072061X

http://godsizeddreams.com/

winsomeretreat.com I think they’ll have the speakers sessions on line.

 

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him.

Blessed is the one
    who trusts in the Lord,
who does not look to the proud,
    to those who turn aside to false gods.[b]
Many, Lord my God,
    are the wonders you have done,
    the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
    were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
    they would be too many to declare.

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
    but my ears you have opened[c]
    burnt offerings and sin offerings[d] you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
    it is written about me in the scroll.[e]
I desire to do your will, my God;
    your law is within my heart.”

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
    I do not seal my lips, Lord,
    as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
    from the great assembly.

11 Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
    may your love and faithfulness always protect me.
12 For troubles without number surround me;
    my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.
They are more than the hairs of my head,
    and my heart fails within me.
13 Be pleased to save me, Lord;
    come quickly, Lord, to help me.

14 May all who want to take my life
    be put to shame and confusion;
may all who desire my ruin
    be turned back in disgrace.
15 May those who say to me, “Aha! Aha!”
    be appalled at their own shame.
16 But may all who seek you
    rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who long for your saving help always say,
    “The Lord is great!”

17 But as for me, I am poor and needy;
    may the Lord think of me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
    you are my God, do not delay.

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Home Sweet Home?

6fb763113cd9c105fc245e2b2d9da20b

Home Sweet Home, Not a sentiment everyone can grasp.

We hosted a Valentines dinner for our church back in February. We had a fun time of food and fellowship and meaningful discussion. Our theme for the night was “home”. Jesus came to earth, made a home with us, then went to prepare a place for us and until then  lives with us every day. Discussion questions centered around what makes us feel at home here on earth. Most answered along the lines of where we feel comfortable, places we feel like we can put up our feet and let down our guard and just be ourselves.
Some of us didn’t live in that kind of place growing up, myself included. I often walked on eggshells at home as a girl because I didn’t know the next time my  my father might be drunk or my parents might be fighting. I often felt I had offended them or was doing something wrong. I was awkward and didn’t know how to express myself. My mother couldn’t quite figure me out and was pretty busy with my younger siblings and her irresponsible husband. I was a free range child with no boundaries or responsibilities.  My mother* is the first to admit I was somewhat neglected. I never really felt “at home” at home.

I did know a place though where the laughter was generous, the love was tangible and there was no fear.
Mom Jenny showed the love of Christ to me. She welcomed me in, played games, taught me to sew, brought me to church and even though she had her own troubles she always spoke of God’s generous provision and protection. It was at the little Baptist church in Osterville, MA that Jenny took me too each Sunday where I heard bible stories and the good news and where I felt accepted and at home.  For about three years I attended that church, took part in their Sunday school and then the youth group before my parents separated and, our of necessity, Mom moved us 500 miles away.  By then I was drifting towards rebellion anyway but  Jenny, who I still call my other mom, that church and the kind people who made me feel at home left a lasting impact on my life.

Erin, Mom Jenny, and me a few years ago.
Erin(Jenny’s daughter), Mom Jenny, and me a few years ago.

I don’t think I’ll ever feel completely at home in this world, C.S. Lewis made me understand that:

“If we find ourselves with a desire that nothing in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that we were made for another world.”
― C.S. Lewis

I’m grateful though for the memory of Jenny’s home where I was welcomed and accepted and loved. It was a little taste of the place Jesus has gone to prepare for all who believe in Him.

1“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me. 2My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4You know the way to the place where I am going.” John 14:2

Do you know the way to your forever home?

*My dear mother is a wonderful woman who had her hands full, I don’t blame her in the least, I was an easy child who didn’t demand much so it was easy to let me go my own way. My mother too is thankful for the kind people in our lives who helped care for her children.