Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Baby Hope Doesn't Have A Voice, But We Do!

I awoke this morning around 3am with little arms reached up to me.....accompanied by a sweet smile.....bed-head hair.....and big, sleep dusted green eyes. Four years old, but the size of a two year old who is way too small to climb up into a bed all by herself, I have no idea how long she stood beside my bed with her arms outstretched. But when I pulled her up into the bed, her feet and hands were as cold as four chunks of ice. Hope quickly cuddled up close and was soon sound asleep.

Hopey still isn't speaking, so she didn't make a single sound while she stood beside my side of the bed early this morning. Patiently, little miss stood very quiet until I noticed her presence. Thank goodness I awoke and spotted her. Because Hope doesn't communicate with words, I have no idea what caused her to awake and search me out.....was it a bad dream or a tummy ache? I'll never know.

Living with a four year old who wants to communicate but lacks the ability to let others in on her desires is a challenge. My heart breaks for Hope; I long to hear her voice. Although she is able to do some sign language, she isn't able to communicate her thoughts, feelings, and fears with signs.

As I prepare for the New Year, I am reminded of all I have to be grateful for.....more than I could possibly list. Today, given Hope's middle-of-the-night visit, I am reminded that communication is an incredible gift. I am thankful for the 400- 500 people who join me daily by reading my thoughts, struggles, and journey to the Father through this blog......I hope, together, we will draw even nearer to our Creator in 2010, challenging one another to go deeper than ever before.

In closing, be reminded we need to use the voices we have been given to speak boldly about our True Love, sharing His story with the world. May we give everything we have to give to the One who gave everything for us! Hug your family tight---another year is behind us. Another year closer to the return of our Lord!

"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh......by your words you will be justified, and by your words, you will be condemned." Matthew 12: 34-37

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Blame Ondrea!!!

I have written some heavy posts lately, so this evening I had planned to keep it light and fun. However, a good friend, Ondrea Harrison, left a comment for me today on the blog post from Saturday, December 26th, and has asked me to respond. So, if you were hoping for light and fun, blame Ondrea! (Love you, sistah!)

First of all, I want to openly confess that I in no way claim to be an expert on spiritual matters. I do enjoy digging deep into scripture and into history, and I also love reading heavy duty authors like Arthur Pink, A.W. Tozer, C.S. Lewis, and Oswald Chambers. Each of these men lived incredible lives of humility that I cannot begin to comprehend. It is said that A.W. Tozer actually wrote one of his books prostrate on the floor to keep himself in submission to the authority of the Lord. Can you imagine???

That being said, I also want to say I am also not a "works" believer. I believe whole-heartedly that I am saved ONLY because Jesus died for me and rose again. I cannot earn my way to heaven any more than I can grow purple hair. It is an impossibility.

The blog post in question is about the necessity of our accepting Jesus as both Savior and Lord. A package deal. It is often preached that Jesus is Savior....no strings attached. My point was this is not scriptural; scripture, instead, teaches faith and works go hand in hand. We could sit around and banter back and forth with scripture for days, and we could single out many passages that would seem to indicate one can be saved by simple belief in God and the saving grace of Jesus. However, if the Word of God is taken as a whole, my argument is that the reader who has not been tainted by "religiosity" would read the Bible and come away with an entirely different message than: "Hey, say a prayer and you're in! " The Bible says demons believe in Jesus and "tremble".....they certainly aren't saved. So, there must be more than intellectual assent, right?

Case in point:

I have a friend who is a believer and married an unbeliever. She prayed for years that her husband would seek the Lord, but he resisted because of the hypocrisy in the lives of proclaiming "Christians". Finally, one day, he relented to his wife's urging and asked her to give him her Bible to read. This man sat down and read the Bible cover to cover. He had never gone to church to be taught what the Bible says; in fact, he had never had a theological discussion of any kind in his life. On the morning he finished reading the Bible through, he looked to his wife (over coffee) and said: "If this is what you truly believe, then we should be living our lives alot different. We should downsize our home and give more to the poor, we should help orphans and widows, and we should be loving the people who live around us alot more."

My friend, who had been going to church since her time in the womb, was astonished by his response. Astonished and incredibly convicted. Post Script: This man accepted the Lord and their lives did change.

Years ago, when Lydia was only five, I took her to the skating rink with her Kindergarten class.
I put on my skates and went on the floor with her. After a few times around the rink, she noticed there were many moms watching their children from the wall that encompassed the rink. I seemed to be the only mom actually skating (overprotective--ha!).

Delicately, so as to not hurt my feelings, Lydia asked: Mommy, why don't you go to the mommy wall with all of the other mommys?"

I had no idea what she was talking about, because I had been so entrenched with her. I was THRILLED to be spending such great time with her. She pointed to the wall, and I quickly got the message. Lydia wanted to be treated like the other children----she wanted to be a big girl. After making sure she was going to be alright, and being assured by her five or six times, I skated off to join the mommy wall.

Within minutes, the skating rink changed the music to something very loud and harsh, they turned off all the regular lights and turned on shooting laser lights. I knew Lydia would be afraid, so I immediately took off back onto the rink. When I found Lydia, she was standing in the center of the rink with her head down and her hands over her face screaming "Mommy". I put my arms around her and again took her around the rink with me.

When the lights were "normal" again, I let her go off by herself and took my place on the mommy wall with the other moms once again. However, I noticed this time Lydia routinely looked toward me to make sure I was in my spot at all times. Each time she glanced my way, I would smile and wave to her to give assurance.

I was everything to Lydia that evening at the Brentwood Skate Center. I was both Savior and Lord, if you will entertain the idea. I took her to the rink, I helped her with her skates, I showed her how to skate, and even left her when she wanted me to leave her alone. Then, when she found herself in need and turned to me, I saved her. Funny, but I was already on the way to the rink before she even called out to me or realized she needed me. Then, I stayed close by to look after her and reassure her the rest of the evening. When the evening came to a close, I gathered her up, took off her skates, rubbed her little feet, and took her home.

THIS is a picture of our relationship with our Lord. He brings us into the world and teaches us all about Himself. Stubborn control-freaks that we can often be, we shove Him aside and think our way is better than His. Crisis comes and we quickly see our need for a Savior. He sees ahead and comes to our rescue before the words "Help me" come forth from our lips. He wraps us in His arms and teaches us again.....and this time around, we learn that HIS WAYS are much better than ours. When we are ready to take on more responsibility with our lives, He gives us a bit of space. But this time, we keep our eyes on Him, bowing to His authority in our lives. Finally, we have come to a place where we realize our absolute need for Him......we need His Ways....He has been our Savior, but has become our Lord too!!! It was our decision to allow Him to be both Savior and Lord. Finally, when our time on earth is finished, He gathers us to Himself, removes our worn out bodies, rubs our souls tenderly and takes us home. Beautiful, isn't it?

"Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." Psalm 1:1-3

Monday, December 28, 2009

God an Inference???

Warning: I am spending our "holiday" riding bikes with the kids, playing lots of Scrabble, and reading A.W. Tozer and Arthur Pink. So, if you aren't in the mood for something deep, you might as well click off the blog. It is impossible to read these two authors and not be pushed to dig deeper.

For instance, from Tozer:

"It was Canon Holmes, of India, who more than twenty-five years ago called attention to the inferential character of the average man's faith in God. To most people God is an inference, not a reality. He is a deduction from evidence which they consider adequate; but He remains personally unknown to the individual. "He must be," they say, "therefore we believe He is." Others do not go even so far as this; they know of Him only by hearsay. They have never bothered to think the matter out for themselves, but have heard about Him from others, and have put belief in Him into the back of their minds along with the various odds and ends that make up their total creed. To many others God is but an ideal, another name for goodness, or beauty, or truth; or He is law, or life, or the creative impulse back of the phenomena of existence."

"These notions about God are many and varied, but they who hold them have one thing in common: they do not know God in personal experience. The possibility of intimate acquaintance with Him has not entered their minds. While admitting His existence they do not think of Him as knowable in the sense that we know things or people."

"If we truly want to follow God we must seek to be other-worldly. But we must avoid the common fault of pushing the "other world" into the future. It is not future, but present. It parallels our familiar physical world, and the doors between the two worlds are open. "Ye are come," says writer to the Hebrews (and the tense is plainly present), "unto Mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel." All these things are contrasted with "the mount that might be touched" and the "sound of a trumpet and the voice of words" that might be heard. May we not safely conclude that, as the realities of Mount Sinai were apprehended by the senses, so the realities of Mount Zion are to be grasped by the soul? And this not by any trick of the imagination, but in downright actuality. The soul has eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Feeble they may be from long disuse, but by the life-giving touch of Christ alive now and capable of sharpest sight and most sensitive hearing."

"Obedience to the Word of Christ will bring an inward revelation of the Godhead (John 14:21-23). It will give acute perception enabling us to see God even as is promised to the pure in heart. A new God-consciousness will seize upon us and we shall begin to taste and hear and inwardly feel the God who is our life and our all. There will be seen the constant shining of the light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world. More and more, as our faculties grow sharper and more sure, God will become to us the great All, and His Presence the glory and wonder of our lives."

OK, I know that was a lot of quoting, but it is all too good to leave out. Tozer is right on, isn't he?
If, as believers, we can begin to realize we have the ability to reach out and seize a Kingdom life here and now.....then, what kind of life will we lead??? We can walk in power and might, because of Jesus' power and might within us. We can obey His Word, because His precious blood is flowing through us and has been poured out over us, enabling us to do amazing, wonderful things that go completely against our human (fallen) nature. We are a NEW CREATION! We are walking testimonies of the most beautiful sacrifice ever made.....Enemy can't touch that!

When friends come over for a few hours, they get a "taste" of our family. (Actually, they get the best taste of our family). However, last Spring, one of Caleb's friends spent 5 days with our family in Florida....Disney World. As a parent, can you think of a more stressful place to take 2 fourteen year old boys, 2 ten year old girls, and 2 babies with Down Syndrome??? Me either. But regardless, off we went.

Taylor, Caleb's friend, REALLY got to know our family during that 5 days. We threw more rules and regulations at him than he has probably had in his entire life. The last thing I was going to do was lose Taylor in Disney World. In addition, Taylor learned about taking care of babies. After a few days, he was asking me if it was time for a diaper change and gathering high chairs whenever we stopped to eat. It warmed my heart. Because Taylor gladly accepted our long list of "Disney World Rules", we were able to enjoy all of the activites Disney had to offer without worry. We were free to joke around, have fun discussion, and really get to know one another. In fact, Chappy and I began to lessen the rules because we realized we could trust Taylor----consequently, Caleb and Taylor earned more responsibility.

Doesn't God work the same way....on a much larger scale? He gives us lists of rules and regulations to protect us....because He doesn't want to "lose" us. When we seek to know Him and live within His boundaries, striving to please Him, we get to experience joy with Him, relationship with Him, and we get to know Him better. As a result, He gives us more responsibility too. In the process, through our desire to follow Him, He becomes more real to us......more relevant.....not merely an inference.

Oh, how He loves you and me. How He desires relationship with us and wants us to spend time "knowing" Him. Don't you desire the same? Me too!!! In 2010, let's promise not to be just 2-3 hour a week guests with God.....let's be the overnighters who REALLY get to know Him.

"I bessech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Romans 12:1-2

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Darya (to be called Amy Joy) Update!

On Christmas morning, we received a HUGE surprise. The Beasley Family (www.blessingsfromabroad.blogspot.com) have been in Eastern Europe working on the adoption of their three new additions who happen to share an orphange with Darya. They sent a 16 second video of our new baby girl, and I have spent the last couple of days unsuccessfully trying to figure out how to download the video onto our blog. So sorry.

As you know, our red-headed munchkin' Charlie is the same age as Darya, so our family has an excellent basis of comparison. From the video, it seems the little overcomer is right up to speed with Charlie. The video shows her in a swing (but she could reach the floor with her feet). She was bearing weight on her legs and even pushing herself back and forth. In addition, she was holding her neck and back up very straight, and turning in response to noises. At one point, Darya leaned over from her waist to look to the side and then raised herself up nicely without much effort.

In addition, the Beasley family emailed to say when they left the orphanage, they waved and said "goodbye" to Darya. Can you believe she waved back and actually vocalized "Bye"??? Charlie can't even do that yet. I am amazed.

So, I hope you will rejoice with us on the great news. In speaking with Charlie's therapist a couple of weeks ago, we discussed that Darya would probaby have many hurdles to overcome from having been institutionalized in an orphanage for the last year and a half without much attention. However, it seems God has been acting in the role as her therapist and has been working with her behind the scenes. Love it!!! No wonder she has progressed so well!!!

"But my God shall supply all your needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Philippians 4:19



Saturday, December 26, 2009

Preparing Hearts For The New Year: Savior Or Lord??? Is There A Difference???

Do you remember when you accepted Christ as your Savior? I do. I was a little girl and had just heard a message about Hell. Literally, I would've accepted anything I had to accept to avoid going to that scary place.

Years later, as a young teen, I began to gain an understanding of what it really meant to be saved and what Jesus had done for me when He died on the cross. During this time, my salvation experience began to change.....to deepen.

I was fortunate to have church leaders who really loved the Lord and lived their love out daily in front of me. I admired them and wanted my life to mirror their lives. So, even at an early age, I was taught "works" go hand in hand with Salvation. In fact, one of my youth mentors wore out the cliche': "If you are going to talk the talk, you better be walking the walk."

"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He has laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethern. But whoso hath this world's good, and sees his brother has need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? ......let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and truth." 1 John 3:16-18

The church is not perfect. It is the best model we have to spread the Truth, God's Word, but it is flawed with human weaknesses. Example: A multi-million dollar church building does not necessarily equal a Holy, God-Fearing place of worship anymore than a $250,000.00 a year pastoral salary equals a perfect pastor. God doesn't measure the building OR the annual income.....scripture says He measures the heart of the believers. Period. For whatever reason, society measures success of a person by what he/she has. Sadly, the church is currently being measured the same way, which explains why tithes are going to build buildings instead of building the Kingdom.

The above issue shows a weakness in the church body, but I wouldn't classify it as a "heaven deal-breaker". However, there has been a long standing teaching in the church as a whole that I believe could prove to be a deal-breaker. How many times have you been told you only need to say a prayer to accept Christ as your Savior and you are saved? I have heard it hundreds of times, but it cannot be substantiated by Scripture. If we sat down and read the Bible cover to cover, we would never close the Bible with a big: "Whew, all I have to do is say a prayer and I'll be saved." Truthfully, quite the opposite would happen.

This is an issue of WHO we are accepting. When we accept Jesus as Savior, we must equally accept Him as Lord. It is imperative that we put our old self to death and take up a new life....becoming completely submissive to our heavenly Father. In other words, we must seek obedience. To do this, we have to get into His Word and find out what pleases Him.....discover how He has instructed (and expects) us to live.

In reading A.W. Tozer (one of my favorite authors), I found the following in the book: "A Treasury Of A.W. Tozer" and believe it to be profound:

"Mankind appears to have a positive genius for twisting truth until it ceases to be truth and becomes downright falsehood......This fact was brought forcibly to mind recently by hearing again the discredited doctrine of a divided Christ.....It goes like this: Christ is both Savior and Lord. A sinner may be saved by accepting Him as Savior without yielding to Him as Lord. The practical outworking of this doctrine is that the evangelist presents and the seeker accepts a divided Christ.......

It is altogether doubtful any man can be saved who comes to Christ for His help but with no intention to obey Him. Christ's Saviorhood is forever united to His Lordship. Look at the Scriptures: "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved....for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon Him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." (Romans 10:9-13) There the LORD is the object of faith for salvation. And when the Philippian jailer asked the way to be saved, Paul replied, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31). He did not tell him to believe on the Savior with the thought that he could later take up the matter of His Lordship and settle it at his own convenience. To Paul there could be no division of offices. Christ must be Lord or He will not be Savior."

The church, in spreading the Good News of Salvation, has done so with the right heart......with an admirable and earnest desire to reach the lost. However, I fear, the result may be many "Christians" living with a false sense of security, believing the prayer they said in Vacation Bible School when they were in elementary school saved them. Now adults, they live like the heathen, thinking they are going to be ushered into heaven when they breathe their last breath because of a simple prayer they spoke.

Just something to think about. I want to be a doer of the Word and not a hearer only, don't you?

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Empty Stocking

It is Christmas Day! All of the gifts have been carefully wrapped and are under the tree. Stockings have been hung from the chimney with care.....full of lots of goodies for the little ones who will awake and dig into them with eagerness. All is joyful and seems quite perfect, except for the empty stocking.

The day is celebrated in honor of the Christ child who was born in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. The announcement was made first to the poorest of poor.....the homeless.....the shepherds. A choir of angels brought the message themselves with heavenly singing. The shepherds, who were looked down upon with disgust by the wealthy, must have been overwhelmed by the sight and honored to have been picked as the audience for the phenomenal spectacle.

The King could have been born in a palace as He deserved and born into a royal family. However, He selected humble and meager beginnings. He was born to a young unknown girl, a man of trade, and in a cave. Baby Jesus' first bed was a manger: a feeding trough for animals.

His purpose for coming to earth was to die for a people who deserve death.....people who turn their backs on the Creator of the Universe and choose their own way over His.....people who know the right way to live, but choose to take another path.....the selfish, the cheats, the liars,
the adulterers, the criminals, and the murderers. He disrobed Himself of glory to come to earth as a simple child, to live a sinless life and then willingly take the sins of the world upon Himself. He became my substitute....He died in my place. He became your substitute....He died in your place, too.

The empty stocking belongs to Him.

May I suggest we take a few minutes in quiet solitude to consider what gifts He might want to find in His stocking, and then determine to fill it? Let's recall the effort we have expended to locate the perfect gifts for family and friends; now let's use that same purposeful energy to find the perfect gift for our King of King and Lord of Lords.....our Father....the Lover of our Souls.

If you feel inclined, in the comment section below, write a word(s) denoting the gift you will give. You can simply choose anonymous and do not have to leave a name. I think we will all be blessed to look at the list of gifts each of us is presenting to our Lord and Savior.

Merry Christmas to you and many thanks to all who were a part of helping raise the international fee that will allow us to adopt Darya (Amy Joy) next year. That little brown eyed orphan girl has been given a wonderful miracle; she has been given the gift of life. Right now she is in an orphange...humble beginning.....but will be brought to America, given a family, and will soon be a little queen. How does it feel to be a part of a miracle???

"And His Name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Ever-Lasting Father, Prince of Peace!"

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tragic Loss Of An Orphan Advocate

It seems an odd time to talk about death, doesn't it? Afterall, Christmas is a time to celebrate life. Today, a wonderful Christian man, Derek Loux, tragically died in a car accident when his vehicle slid on black ice.

Death is as sure as anything on earth.....the sun comes up every morning to bring light, the waves of the ocean continually hit the shore, and time marches on. Likewise, we begin to die following the very first moments of birth.

The day we left the hospital with Hope in October, we were told she still has an aneurysm in her heart; consequently, her prognosis is unknown. I remember very clearly the ride home. I was consumed with fear to the point of shaking and having trouble taking breaths. Chappy and I didn't speak a word the entire way home, and I just sat staring out the window holding tightly to my fear.

God did not speak audibly to me on that ride home, but He spoke clearly to my thoughts. He supernaturally grabbed hold of my senseless pondering and asked: "Do you believe My Word is true or not?" In that instance, I remembered that I indeed do believe His Word is true. Then He pressed upon me the knowledge that Hope's days were numbered long before she was created. He had already skillfully planned each and every day of her life. I wrapped that truth carefully and tucked it into my heart. Any time fear rears its ugly head regarding Hope's life, I reach into my heart and unwrap the truth. It comforts me all of the time.

Today is a day of such depth of sorrow for the Loux family that I dare not pretend I know how they feel. I don't. What I do know, however, is Derek Loux left this earth today sliding into eternity out of breath and worn out from all of the work he has done on earth.....his hair wasn't neat and tidy, he wasn't worried about the clothes he was wearing or the treasures he had collected on earth. His death was unexpected......Derek was taken by surprise.

What if you and I were taken by surprise like Derek? If we were to stand before the Almighty today, would we be able to say we had worked tirelessly for the Kingdom? Would we be able to say our primary goal on earth was to serve the King of King and Lord of Lords? Would Father run to us and grab us up in His arms saying: "I am thrilled to see you.....you have made me so proud.....well done!"

As we prepare for the time when believers all over the world stop to remember the greatest gift ever given, let's remember to stop and remember WHO HE is. He is GOD!!! And it does matter how we live our lives. Derek understood this truth, and He met His Father fully prepared and ready. Are we???

Please take a few minutes to be blessed beyond measure as you read about the Loux family's adoption journey (7 adopted children---four adopted last year: two with Down Syndrome, one with Spina Bifida, and a 13 year old girl who had been abused) In addition, they founded the Josiah Fund to rescue orphans (the ministry named after their son, Josiah, who died when he was 2 1/2 after a battle with Spina Bifida) http://www.louxfamilyblog.com/ If you take time to honor this family by viewing their blog, you will be so happy you did!

James 4:17
"Therefore , to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Connie Is Her Name....

Connie was raised in the foster care system. It is not a perfect system. She was moved from home to home, suffered abuse from several of the homes that took her in, but continued to hope "the next home" would choose to become her forever family. It never happened.



A wonderful Christian man fell in love with Connie and they married. She embraced her heavenly Father with eagerness, thrilled to finally know a daddy's love. She also poured her life into her husband, equally thrilled to have a family she could call her own.



After birthing two children, because of some health issues, Connie was told she should never have any more children. As a result, she turned to the foster care system she was all too familiar with. Through a church contact, she learned of a little newborn bi-racial baby who needed a family. No one wanted the baby girl, because she had been born with Cerebral Palsy.



Connie and her husband did not hesitate. They eagerly took in the little angel and made her their own. Several years later, they heard about a little orphan in China with Cerebral Palsy. Tirelessly, they worked to raise the needed funds to bring the little girl home.



One might think this the end of the story, but it isn't. God is currently up to an even more amazing work in this family. At the moment, they are attempting to "downsize" expenses/debt in order to make themselves available to bring in more "homeless" children. In fact, they have located a sibling group of three within the United States who need a family, and are hoping to share their family once again next year with these children. One of the three has special needs. In addition, Connie has started an adoption agency to help families adopt children out of our foster care system with very little cost.

Connie came to my mind today for a couple of reasons:

First, if you have been reading my blog lately, you are aware of my preoccupation with orphans around the world. During the holiday season, when so much money is being spent on material things, I think often of the children who have nothing. When you go to an international orphanage to adopt an orphan, you are expected to bring clothing for your new child.....orphan children are given to their new parents naked and with no belongings whatsoever....not even a favorite blanket or treasured stuffed animal. Connie understands this. That is why she and her husband are seriously making practical efforts to spend less money on material possessions in order to spend more money on those in need.

Second, I have been thinking of Mary.....Jesus' mother today. A young Jewish girl, approached by an angel and asked to give up everything, does it! She was asked to set her reputation aside and carry the Messiah within her womb, knowing no one would believe her story. She risked her life; the penalty for adultery was death, and she was betrothed to Joseph when this took place. Even as she watched her son die, there was such controversy surrounding Mary. Some believed He was Who He said He was....but most did not. Most probably considered she and Jesus to be more than frauds.....out of their minds.....crazy. She gave everything she had to give. She is a perfect example of "Crazy Love". Connie, likewise, is a woman who gives everything out of "Crazy Love" for Jesus.

As we approach the Christmas season when Christians celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, consider what you can do. If you cannot adopt a child yourself, can you go to www.reecesrainbow.org and fund the adoption of one of the waiting children? If so, do it! What better way to celebrate Christmas than to give LIFE to a child during the month we remember the greatest child coming to earth to bring us the gift of LIFE everlasting.

If you want to be inspired today, check out the following blogs:
www.blessedbyachild.blogspot.com (5 biological children/17 adopted children)
http://thesousabrownfamily.blogspot.com/ (2 biological children/9 adopted children)
http://www.9mire.blogspot.com/ (3 biological children/4 adopted--3 with DS)
http://torresfamilyadoption.blogspot.com/ (3 adopted w/ DS--raising funds to adopt another)


"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all those who are destitute." Proverbs 31:8

Monday, December 21, 2009

Good King Wenceslaus....Who Was He???

"Good King Winceslaus looked out.....On the Feast of Stephen".....



We've all heard the song during the Christmas season, but who was he???



Winceslaus was born to a Duke and Duchess of Bohemia in 907, was educated by his Christian grandmother, lost his father to a battle, and was then left to be raised by his mother who was not a Christian. Following his father's death, the Duchess embraced paganism and plunged the country into a civil war between Christians and non-Christians.



Winceslaus' grandmother wanted him to claim his rightful title of Duke of Bohemia and end the persecution of Christians. His mother was so determined for him NOT to become Duke, she had her mother-in-law strangled. However, after turning fifteen, Winceslaus became ruler and declared that every person would have the "liberty of conscience" to worship God freely.



As leader, Winceslaus defended widows and orphans, built churches, fed and clothed the poor, visited prisoners and tried to end oppression of the poor. His brother, Boleslaus, had followed in his mother's pagan footsteps and could not stomach his brother's spreading of "Christian Cheer". As a result, he developed an evil plan to murder his brother and take his place as ruler.



Winceslaus made it a habit to visit churches on their feast days. When Boleslaus learned his brother was going to be visiting a church near his home, he invited him to stay with him. Even though Winceslaus doubted his brother's intentions, he stayed with him. A plan to assassinate Winceslaus over dinner failed, but the next day, Boleslaus attacked his brother with a sword just before he entered the church he had come to visit. Co-conspirators joined him and took Winceslaus down. Before dying on the steps of the church, Winceslaus said, "Brother, may God forgive you."



When you follow God's Way, you will be hated by those on the opposing path. The heat will be a constant in your life and may come from unexpected people and places: Winceslaus was hated by his own mother and brother. His stand for Christ in caring for widows and orphans, feeding and clothing the poor, etc. cost him alot.....his family and his life.



Chappy and I have lost many friends over our passion for orphans and widows. Maybe it is because we are both first borns and pretty open about suggesting anyone who is "able" should adopt an orphan.....and EVERY Christian should find a widow to visit and look after. Each day we discuss our shock over how many Christians we know who have plenty of money and space in their home who could save ONE orphan with Down Syndrome through the gift of adoption AND it would not impact their lives one single bit other than they would have an extra member of the family.....but they don't. These believers know orphans with DS are tragically placed in horrible mental institutions to be tortured and killed when they turn four.....they know scripture says Christians are to care for orphans in distress.....they know God is holding them responsible to act.....but they do nothing. They are comfortable with their lives and do not want to change their routine.....not even when a child's life is at stake.

Don't misnderstand, Chappy and I do not want to come across as self-righteous or holier than thou. We are far from perfect, and do not sit in judgement of anyone. However, to us, this as an urgent situation that needs to be discussed openly, because children are dying right now, and God wants us to save them! If it was your child or my child who was being dragged off to a mental institution where he/she would be drugged, starved, and tied to a bed for the rest of his/her life.....can you imagine the lengths we would go to in order to save our child?? We wouldn't be able to sleep or rest until we knew our child was safe. Well these orphans don't have parents.....so who will stand up for them? lose sleep for them? save them? If not us, then who? By doing nothing, what is the message believers are trying to get across? Is the message: "This is unfortunate, but not my problem"......or "The orphans with Down Syndrome deserve to be tortured and killed." From God's viewpoint, what's the difference???

Added at 10:17am 12/22:
I received a comment from a woman named Kathleen below. I hope you will take time to read her comment and be moved. Just so you will know, I get emails from people like Kathleen all of the time. "Kathleens" are people who get very mad at my blog posts, but not for the reason you would expect. You would expect Kathleen to be someone who argues the point: "Not everyone is called to adopt....how dare you make me feel guilty for not doing something I am not called to do." Wrong! The "Kathleens" that email me are moms and dads who have already adopted....or have fostered children.....they read my posts and want to do more, but have full plates. They want me to show more grace and mercy in my posts.

I respond to them in the same way I responded to Kathleen's comment below.....the "Kathleens" are not the audience I am trying to reach. If you have already adopted, friends, you have certainly done your part. I was told a shocking statistic recently.....I don't know if it was true, but I wouldn't doubt it's accuracy: Just less than 10% of Christian families in our country have adopted or taken in an unwanted child. Does that surprise you?

If you hear anger in my posts, it is because I feel angry about the orphan crisis......but especially about special needs orphans. I am angry because so many "could help" but won't help. Thanks to all of the "Kathleens" of the blog-o-sphere who are always so willing to do more. God bless you!


"Stop oppressing the helpless and stop making false accusations and spreading vicious rumors! Feed the hungry and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as day." Isaiah 58:9-10

"Jesus said: If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give it up for me, you will find it."
Matthew 10:38-39

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Video From The "Go Christmas Shopping And Leave Your Kids At Our House" Fundraiser For Reece's Rainbow Waiting Children


Have you wondered what a Babysitting Fundraiser looks like? If you have, check out the video and be ready to crack up! The kids raised $300.00 last week when they offered six hours of babysitting for the neighborhood.....the money has been sent to little one year old Sasha who is a waiting orphan with Down Syndrome through http://www.reecesrainbow.org/ . If you would like to join in the effort, just designate your donation to Sasha for the "$100 for 200 in 2010" ministry effort to save twelve orphans with Down Syndrome in 2010!


video

Mrs. Nell, James and Grace

Mrs. Nell can't remember Hope's name to save her life. She continually asked: "What is that cute little girl wearing the glasses' name?" I probably told her six different times.

As for James, the tall elderly black fella', he just wants to stand around and laugh at Charlie's bright orange hair. It really cracks him up.

Then there is Grace....."When my husband died seventeen years ago, we had just moved to this area. In life, sometimes, you just have to make a decision to keep moving forward. That's what I have done. Now my right arm is paralyzed and I can barely use my left one because of arthritis. I have to fight the feeling of being useless. I have decided to be as nice and friendly as I can to everyone I meet.....I just want to be a good friend, because that's all I can be. People tell me I am making a difference, and I hope I am."

A year ago, my Grandmother died. We buried her on her favorite day of the year.....Christmas Eve. Each year, on Christmas Eve, all of the family gathered at her house for a big ham, potato salad (with sweet pickles and tomatoes), green beans, okra, corn, sweet potato casserole, baked beans, cole slaw, coconut cake and pumpkin pie. She LOVED it. Every single year, without fail, when we would walk through the door she would say: "Don't look at me, I am a mess. I didn't brush my hair today, because I was afraid a hair would fall into all of the food I've been cooking. That would make us all sick." We would just shake our heads and laugh----her hair was always a mess on Christmas Eve. I miss her.

Seven months later, in July, my Grandfather died. My Grandad dropped out of school in the 8th grade so he could work to earn money to help provide for his large family during the Depression, he fought in WWII, helped start a company after the war that became very successful, earned a GED in his forties (just to show he could've graduated High School if he had had the opportunity), took incredible care of my Grandmother, who was eaten up with arthritis to such an extent she could not walk, use her arms or even turn her neck the last twenty years of her life, until she died, he made weekly visits to the nursing home for over thirty years (becoming a town legend), was treasurer in the local First Baptist Church and head greeter until he was 92, went sky diving at age 85, visited Ireland and Israel when he was in his 90's, and he cooked a large Sunday lunch every single week for my entire life....until he died. I miss him.

Both my grandfather (Mom's dad) and grandmother (Dad's mom) had to be put into assisted living facilities the last two years of their lives. The kids and I enjoyed making frequent visits to see them. They were in two different places, and we got to know many of the other residents at both places. We would bring gifts, sing songs, listen to funny stories, and have a great time when we visited Grandad and Mamow. After their deaths, however, it was difficult for me to even think about visiting a Nursing Home. The sweet memories of those I loved would cause me to break down and cry at the thought of it.....as a result, I stayed away......until today.

When we walked into the nearby Nursing Home today, the kids and I teared up immediately. Caleb whispered in my ear: "I'm not ready for this mom, it is still too soon." I shook my head at him and explained the importance of facing our sorrow and continuing to visit the elderly who become lonesome being trapped within the walls of the "home" they have been forced to move to because of bodies and minds that no longer cooperate. Taking care of widows and orphans in distress, plainly means just that: As believers, we are to be obedient and do it!

After meeting Mrs. Nell, James, and precious Grace, we were all happy we made the visit. When we climbed back into the van, we cried. It was a good cry. None of us needed to talk about the tears that flowed, we knew we were all thinking about the same thing: missing Mamow and Grandad.

We are going to make the Nursing Home a regular visit now that we have that "first time" under our belts. The next time will be easier; in fact, we'll look forward to seeing our new friends again. This time we brought them hand lotion, and Mrs. Grace told us her hands were so dry, she would have the lotion "used up" within a week or two......she suggested we bring some more very soon. Ha! Ha! And we will.

Yesterday I posted about how lives built upon big homes, fine cars, powerful jobs, private schools, sports activities, and social agendas will crumble with emptiness. I in no way meant to suggest families should sell all they have, quit their jobs, and turn backs on popular social circles in order to save orphans. Not necessary. What I am suggesting, though, is that every believer should desire to please the Lord and show love to Him by following James 1:27 and Matthew 25:40.

The visit to the nursing home took one hour today. We showed up hoping to be a blessing to someone in the home today, and ended up leaving with blessings heaped on us from the residents in the facility. Literally, they poured love upon us. We entered the Nursing Home with bottles of hand lotion to give out and asked the person at the front desk to give us several room numbers of residents who aren't blessed by frequent visitors. She gave us the names and room numbers, and we were off to visit. It was that easy.

To raise $300.00 for Sasha this week, our children took 6 hours of their time to do some neighborhood babysitting. (Sasha is an orphan with Down Syndrome who is currently waiting on a forever family through http://www.reecesrainbow.org/ ) Sasha is one year old and has nothing....not even one dime has been given to his adoption fund until this week. But we took the time to do it, and I mailed the $300.00 check to Reece's Rainbow today.

Everyone reading this blog can do something......should do something. What will you do? Can you take one hour next week to visit a widow in a local nursing home? Can you give up a couple of meals out this week and send the money to Sasha instead? If you are a student, can you babysit or do an extra chore to earn money to send to Sasha's adoption fund next week? If God is asking you to adopt an orphan, are you prepared to rise up in faith and say "yes"?

"But if someone who is supposed to be a Christian has enough money to live well, and sees a brother in need, and won't help him----how can God's love be within him? Little children, let us stop just saying we love people; let us really love them, and show it by our actions. Then we will know for sure, by our actions, that we are on God's side, and our consciences will be clear, even when we stand before the Lord."
1 John 3: 17-19

Thursday, December 17, 2009

"It makes little difference whether one dies at the age of thirty or threescore and ten," said Meursault in Camus's The Stranger, since in either case, other men and women will continue living, the world will go on as before."

"What difference does anything make, really? It matters little whether you get up or stay in bed, whether you love life or hate it. Stab yourself in the hand, like Sartre's Mathieu, shoot a person in the hot Algerian sun like Camus's "Stranger", or just wander, Hemingwayesque, from one bar to another, picking fights. Life goes on whether you strive to change it or merely succumb to it."

The above quotes are taken from Philip Yancey's book: "The Bible Jesus Read". The subject is existential despair and Yancey provides a captivating chapter discussing despair within the mystery of the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible. I wonder how many people in the United States can relate to the quotes above? How many wrestle with whether life really matters? The author of Ecclesiastes certainly had many questions.

To continue quoting from Yancey's book:

"Despair arises out of circumstances of plenty rather than deprivation. Existential despair did not germinate in the hell holes of Auschwitz or Siberia but rather in the cafes of Paris, the coffee shops of Copenhagen, the luxury palaces of Beverly Hills. After a trip into Eastern Europe during the Cold War, novelist Philip Roth reported: "In the West, everything goes and nothing matters. While in the East, nothing goes and everything matters."

"A clue into the origin of existential despair appears in a phrase early on in Ecclesiastes, when the Teacher exclaims: "What a heavy burden God has laid on men!" (1:13) He goes on to describe the burden in biographical detail. The Teacher's burden did not involve personal misfortune, but was, to the contrary, a burden of excess."

I received many comments on yesterday's blog and many personal emails about the post as well: Some expressed fear to step out of the box to adopt a stranger, even though that stranger is a homeless child. One couldn't understand why adopting orphans should be the believers' responsibility.....it was suggested it might be the international country's responsibility to take care of their own. Still others shared a strong desire to do something, but can't seem to get their spouses on board with them. Thank you for all of the emails and comments. It is good when we challenge one another's thoughts and stretch our comfort zones.

I have shared the above quotes from Yancey's book, because I believe he is really onto something big. I know many who are considered wealthy. They have the big house, the fine automobiles, and two or three perfect children. They stuff their lives with high-power jobs in an all too common pursuit of getting ahead, they endlessly promote their children's private school/sports activity schedules, and keep a calendar full of popular social agendas. But they aren't happy, and it shows. Yes, they put on a cheerful face....but in their eyes, happiness is missing. In their marriages, love is missing. After only being in their company for a little while, it becomes painfully obvious they are simply marking time and putting forth their very best attempts to avoid an ever-present depression by filling their schedules with meaningless activity.

Take the polar opposite----Chappy spent two weeks in Africa visiting missionaries. One of those missionaries was a seventy-something year old woman named Ellie. Her husband was killed in a car accident last year, so she has been left a widow. Ellie has worked among the impoverished, AIDS ravaged Africans for over fifty years. She has worked tirelessly to feed them, love them, and teach them about God for the majority of her life. She has no luxuries whatsoever, and yet, she radiates pure joy. She has so much joy in her life, Chappy says when you are around her for even a few moments, her joy jumps onto you. It spreads.

The difference? One word. PURPOSE! Our Designer did not create us to mark time. He created us for work----not a job----but Kingdom Work. Caring for "the least"....doing for others. In prosperous societies, suicide rates, the incidence of alcoholism/drugs, abortion rates, divorce rates, and the occurrences of violent crimes sky rocket. One would think the opposite would be true, but it isn't.

If you have never been involved in orphan ministry, I hope you will step out and decide to do something about the 147 million orphan crisis.....especially as it pertains to orphans with Down Syndrome who are being thrown into mental institutions to die when they reach the age of four. When your life is "perfect" and "comfortable", does it seem nuts to take a risk and "rock the family boat" to welcome another child into your home? Of course it does.....especially when that child has special needs. Does it seem crazy to give up a want to help someone else's need? If you have never done something like that, sure it does. But all it takes is the first step, and God will meet you there. When on the path, you will find purpose.....and joy. Remember, God did something totally nuts for us when He came to earth in a lowly manger, fully human and fully God, and then took on our sin by dying on the cross, even though He was completely innocent. He LOVES nuts! Especially when we go nuts for Him!

"Pure religion that is acceptable to our Father is this: to take care of widows and orphans who are in distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27) God is calling you to do something.....if you are reading this post, be certain, He is.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

God Help Us!

I have added a video to the blog; have you watched it yet? NBC did a short documentary on the conditions of mental institutions in Serbia.....where four year old orphans with Down Syndrome are sent.....just because they were born with an extra chromosome. Hope is four. Hope walks, runs, knows 50 signs, laughs, entertains, hugs, kisses, loves, uses crayons, & feeds herself. If Hope had been placed into an orphanage in Serbia, Russia, Asia, or the Ukraine, she would've already been sent into a mental institution like the one in the film clip to spend the remainder of her life.....because she is four and has Down Syndrome......just like the video depicts.....she would be drugged and tied to a crib all day every day. Tortured. Neglected. Left to die a miserable death and never understanding why. Rage boils up inside me just thinking about it.

We had our first homestudy appointment today, and I have to tell you, I left in tears. I have cried most of the day. The person who is doing our homestudy told us in the last four years, she has personally witnessed FIVE adoptions disrupt. In each of the cases, the child was either an older child or a special needs child. In other words, parents went to another country to adopt an orphan.....brought the child to the USA and made him/her part of their family.....and then changed their minds and "undid" the adoption. I don't know about you, but I can't imagine being unwanted and given away one time.....much less two times.

I believe our society is upside down. Scripture clearly states: "Faith without deeds is dead" AND "By their fruits you will know them". Quite the opposite, many believers live their lives always expecting something in return: gratification, entertainment, or leisure. Come to think of it, from the time we start working, we are told about how great retirement is going to be: "Work hard and retire early"......."Live the good life". THAT kind of thinking is not Biblical. We are brainwashed by the media to believe we deserve an easy life, and the truth is, we don't. We should be afraid of easy, because "easy life" does not equal "God life".

We adopted Natalie from Russia eight years ago when she was three, and most of you are aware she has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Being institutionalized and neglected for the first three years of her life plus the FAS has impacted her greatly through the years. Natalie is a child who strives to be "normal", but is very aware of her "not-normal-ness". Raising her has required alot of patience and work. Chappy and I didn't adopt Natalie for what we would receive from her; however, we adopted her for what we could GIVE to her.....love, a home, a family. If we had adopted her for what we would get out of it, we would've sent her back to Russia after a few months, because she was very needy for a long time. The point being, we knew going into the adoption that Natalie was going to need us to GIVE all of ourselves to her. All the work is worth it. Eight years into her eleven year old life, we have a daughter who loves the Lord and is seeking to live her life in a way that honors Him. She still struggles some....but, don't we all? Natalie knows the Lord; if she had stayed in a Russian orphanage, statistics would not be on her side. Hallelu-Yah! Natalie's life has been radically saved!!!

If you are considering adoption, resolve this moment to NEVER disrupt your adoption.....no matter what. When you adopt, you are terribly naive if you expect things are going to be perfect, especially if you adopt a child who has been institutionalized in an orphanage. For the first few years, it may not even be good. Orphan children are neglected and often abused; they are damaged goods. Before adopting, do your homework. I think it is wise to consider keeping your birthorder in order.....in other words, don't bring an older child into your home and take away the current birthorder that is already in place unless you are prepared for what that might entail. In addition, find out as much information as you can about the child you plan to adopt ----medical status, emotional status, etc., so you can be as prepared as possible. Then, talk to other adoptive parents and ask lots of questions; develop a support team to walk your adoption with. As adoptive parents, vow to go against the flow of society and choose to GIVE instead of receive without expectations......choose to do the hard work required to heal the wounds through love and understanding.....don't ever give up on your child. I can guarantee God will never tell you NOT to adopt an orphan. Likewise, He will never tell you to un-adopt your child. I am speaking as one who has walked the path, so I know it isn't always easy. But again, believers aren't called to "easy".

If you stop to think about it, we are on this earth for a very short period of time. If we believe the Bible is true, and we agree we will stand before God someday to give an account for the way we lived our lives, then we will GIVE our lives away. We will care for orphans and widows, feed the hungry, and clothe the poor. The problem is, most people don't believe. As a result, they live their lives like this is all there is.....collecting stuff and seeking constant entertainment.....each decision based on "what's in it for me?" This life is not all there is. God's Kingdom is coming. The King is coming! And we have to prepare and be ready.

If you can watch the video above and not be moved to action, then something is seriously wrong. Scripture says "Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we do not see.....God knows that we know, and He holds us responsible to act." Those children are God's kids.....they are our brothers and sisters. They never asked to be born with an extra chromosome or with a handicapped body, and they can't help their circumstance. They need to be rescued and saved.

As for me, I want to be acutely aware of what God feels when He sees these children being tortured because of their disabilities.....I want to be sensitive to His broken heart over how we have totally messed up His plan. His plan was for us to care for "the least of these", not lock them up, tie them to a bed and forget about them. Have you ever thought, by turning our heads, we are condoning the atrocity? It is just as if we locked them up and tied them to the bed rails ourselves.

My prayer is for everyone who would say they are living a comfortable life today to feel convicted in a way that turns stomachs into knots and eyes to tears. If we are comfortable, we are not living like Jesus. If the Spirit of God is living in us, how can we be satisfied with status quo when we have seen evidence that children are being tortured just because they were born with Down Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy? There is much work to be done while we are here. This isn't the time to sit back and seek a life of luxury....we have Kingdom Work to do. We need to get our hands dirty and our hearts pricked with the sorrow of the Father.

Here are some questions you may be asking yourself:

What is it like to raise a child with Down Syndrome? It is not as easy as raising a child who doesn't have Down Syndrome....it is different.

Do people stare at me and my two children who have Down Syndrome? ALL OF THE TIME.

Does that make me uncomfortable? ALL OF THE TIME.

Does God gift some people with a special ability to raise special needs children? NO! I have no special ability other than I want to serve my Lord and Savior with every fiber that is in me. When I serve Hope and Charlie, I am serving Him.

Do I think most people look down their noses at individuals who have special needs and think they are somehow "too good" to invite a special needs child into their family? YES! Every single time someone says to me how wonderful I am for adopting a child with Down Syndrome, what they are really saying is: "Better you than me." AND when someone says: "I could never do that"....what they are really saying is: "I don't want to do that."

Will God call you to lead a Bible Study while He calls others to adopt orphans? No. As long as there are orphans in the world, we are ALL called, because these children deserve to have a family and a chance at life; they need to know God loves them. If every Christian family in the United States adopted only one orphan, we wouldn't have an orphan crisis around the world, and many Christian families have room for one more child in their homes. I firmly believe EVERY believer is called to care for orphans unless you are aged out of the system, are financially limited or have a physical condition that prohibits you from adopting.....and in those cases, you can still help raise money to assist others in adoption.

Some of my words may be tough to digest, but I am sickened by the prejudice against the orphans.....especially the orphans with Special Needs. For goodness sake, they are children. They are children. They are children. They are children. We cannot turn our heads and pretend it is not our problem.

God, help us! There is much work to be done.

(Since we have several children who read the blog, I deleted a few of the comments that were left following this post. I appreciate all of the input, but want to make sure the content is always appropriate for our young readers....including my own! ha! ha!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Praise The Lord At All Times!!!


Over the years, Chappy and I have found there is a special bond that forms when friends gather together to worship the Father, and every time we get together with our special friends, the Crouch family, we gravitate toward worship. This evening was no different. Robert and Jill brought their eight children and favorite son-in-law (he's the only son-in-law) to our house along with two violins and a guitar. After our meal, and lots of catching up around the table, we gathered upstairs to play and sing some music. They brought out their instruments.....Lydia joined them with her acoustic and bass guitar, Caleb with his guitar, Chappy with the drums, and Natalie with the tambourine. We sang and sang and sang.....Hope danced. All of it in praise to the Lord---our King! We often take for granted the privilege we have in this country to freely worship our Savior without fear of condemnation. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of worship!


By the way, on another quick note, did any of you read the comment that was left on my blog yesterday by Leah and Tony Beasley? My heart skipped a beat when I read it; it was totally unexpected. The Beasleys are in the Ukraine right now adopting three little ones (through Reece's Rainbow) who have Down Syndrome from Darya's orphanage!!! They were hoping to see Darya today and take some new pictures (possibly video) of her. Just try to put yourself in my shoes; you can probably guess, I have been checking my email all day long hoping to hear some news from this precious family about our new baby girl. If you want to check out the Beasley blog, you can find them at: http://www.blessingsfromabroad.blogspot.com/ ....and I will share Darya news when I hear from them!!!


Tomorrow will be our last Reece's Rainbow fundraiser for the year.....our final "Drop Your Kids Off At Our House And Go Christmas Shopping" event will be from 6pm-9pm for $15.00 per child. If you are in the area and want to participate, we still have some room left! All funds raised will go toward Sasha's adoption grant!!!


In closing, be reminded how good it is to Praise the Lord!!! This evening, after two full hours of praise music with our dear friends, our family goes to bed with love tanks that are filled----full of love for our Creator, the Lover of our Souls.


"Praise Him with the tambourine and dance: praise Him with stringed instruments....."

Psalm 150:4

Monday, December 14, 2009

500 Christmas Cards, An Interview, and The Newspaper!

As of this evening, all 500 Christmas cards are ready to be mailed in the morning. Each person who donated to the Darya project will get one. Thank you so much for being a part of our Thanksgiving miracle! After we get our little one home, you'll receive a follow-up family photo to commemorate the event. So many of you were a part of saving little Darya's (to be called Amy Joy) life. The Father pulled us together from each of the fifty states within the United States and four different countries to accomplish His purpose, and I am so grateful to Him. I look forward to sharing her with all of you! Whether you realize it or not, I now count each of you as part of our family.

In addition, Lydia had an interview today with a local church who wants to do a short story/video on the $26,000.00 in 8 days miracle. Lydia is very excited about it. She ended the interview by saying she doesn't want the video to be about her, but about the many orphans with Down Syndrome who are still waiting on their forever family to come get them. What a wonderful thing for an eleven year old to think of. As mom, I sit back and see the Lord has planted a real passion in Lydia's heart to save the orphans....especially those with Down Syndrome. Lydia reminded the gentleman who interviewed her today that orphans with Down Syndrome are placed into a crib and left alone to die when they reach the age of four. She asked him: "How can I not try to save them?"

Finally, our local newspaper, The Tennessean, is running a story as well. Who knows? Maybe many hearts will be turned toward adoption through this tiny bit of publicity. Certainly God is able to use anything (and anyone)----Lydia proved that to me. From this miracle seed, it is our hope many more miracles will grow. Perhaps someday in glory, we'll all gather to reminisce with warm hearts and recall how we were a part of the 2009 Thanksgiving miracle that birthed many miracles....together.

May we sow our seed bountifully---and may many lives be saved because of it!

"But this I say: He who sows sparingly, will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully, will also reap bountifully." 2 Corinthians 9:6

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Recital and Reflection Day!




Chappy and I were caught up in deep conversation today as we took a long walk after Lydia's violin recital. We wondered how many times a day most people spend thinking of others who are hungry, dying, or left as orphans. How many times have we driven into our garages without feeling thankful for transportation or a warm home to come home to? How many times have we prayed a prayer of thanksgiving before eating a meal and really felt thankful? We need to think more on these things.




When God sees us all together......I mean, the United States.....Africa.....Russia.....Asia.....what does He notice? It must be terribly obvious to Him, how some have been blessed with immense wealth and opportunity while others have been born into hopelessness and poverty that becomes a prison from which they will never break free.




Does he measure us, somehow, by what we do with what we have been given? by the way we utilize our blessings? Does He listen to us complain about a traffic jam while at the same time He watches a twelve year old African boy who will soon be left to care for his younger siblings because his mother is dying of AIDS? I don't know, but somehow the absurdity of my complaining about anything....ever....hit me today. And in that moment, I grasped true thanksgiving.



Lydia chose to play: "Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel" for her recital today. One of the verses has caught my ear: "Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind....in one the hearts of all mankind....oh, bid our sad divisions cease.....And be Yourself our King of Peace......Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel. Shall come to You oh Israel."



What would our world look like, if for one moment, we all truly realized we are the same. Having wealth doesn't make one different from one who lacks. Having fair skin doesn't make one unequal from one whose skin is dark. If we could see each other as we are.....each one a magnificent creation of God.....each one His child.....His beloved....we would spend more time thinking about those of us who are hungry, dying, and left as orphans......our brothers and our sisters. Then, we would be moved to act. And the world would change:


"Love one another: Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." John 13:34

What Is Life Supposed To Be About?


Here is a picture of the crew we had over tonight for the "Drop Your Kids Off At Our House And Go Christmas Shopping" fundraising event for Reece's Rainbow Waiting Children! The kids had alot of fun, and we raised $165.00!!! Way to go!!! We'll be hosting the event again on Wednesday evening from 6pm-9pm for anyone who lives in the area.
***
The best news is this: this morning, Sasha had a total of $0 in his adoption fund......but tonight, Sasha has $165.00 to bank in his adoption account. As I sat and thought about our evening, I realized there is nothing I would've rather done this evening. A movie, a concert, dinner out, or even seeing a Christmas play couldn't top helping to raise money for Sasha.
***
In an orphanage, way far from here, little Sasha spends all day being "just one of many". He isn't "special" to anyone at all; in fact, he probably isn't called by name. He has never heard the words: "I love you"......has never felt the arms of mom as she rocks him to sleep and gently hums a lullaby in his ear.....there is no one to tickle his tummy.....no one to brush his hair and tell him how handsome he is. I wonder what it would feel like to be unwanted?
***

As of this evening, praise the Lord, our family has become a part of his life journey. WHEN Sasha's family finally finds him, each person who took part this evening will be able to celebrate with incredible joy.....knowing he/she was a small part of it. THAT is what life is all about!

Luke 12:6-7 "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not be afraid; you (Sasha) are worth more than many sparrows."

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another Fundraiser For Reece's Rainbow Tomorrow!

Wow, are the kiddos excited! Tomorrow they will host a "Drop Your Kids Off At Our House And Go Christmas Shopping" evening at our house for the whole neighborhood. If you live nearby and want to participate by bringing your kids by, feel free! The age restrictions are 2-9 years. The time is from 6-9pm. And the cost is $15.00 per child. Our crew, along with some neighborhood friends, will be providing cookies, games, an art project, and a holiday movie. Doesn't it sound like fun???

We will repeat the event on Wednesday evening from 6-9pm......so, hopefully the kids will earn alot of money to give to Reece's Rainbow! I'm telling you, when our youth experience the joy of giving, it fuels them and energizes them. Caleb, Lydia and Natalie are thrilled about this event.

Today when I was out with the kids, a lady asked them: "So, what is Santa bringing you guys for Christmas this year?" They looked at each other with smiles and shoulder-shrugs as she continued to look at them for an answer. Finally Caleb spoke up and said: "You know, we don't really want or need anything; we've been busy trying to think of ways to earn money to help others who really do have needs." The lady shot a puzzled look and said: "Oh, you must want something." Caleb replied, "No, seriously, we're happy helping others."

I can't imagine what that lady thought as she passed on by us. But I can tell you what I thought:
"HALLELU-YAH!"

For all of you who might think Chappy and I hit the "kid lottery" and just happened to receive good fortune by having such giving children....think again. Wouldn't you agree, being a "giver" is not a natural born attribute for very many people? It is a character trait, however, that is developed through experience. I remember the year we sat down with the children to tell them we were re-thinking Christmas.....that was 4 years ago. Chappy had barely gotten the words out of his mouth when Caleb blurted out: "You aren't talking about stopping the gift thing are you?"

Wow, how far we have all come. Now, instead of having the emotional let down that comes after opening one-hundred gifts on Christmas morning, we have the emotional high of talking about all of those we have worked hard to help during the season. It is an amazing experience.

Tomorrow I plan to post pictures of the "Drop Your Kids Off At Our House And Go Christmas Shopping" fundraiser, so check back to see them.

Don't forget Sasha....if you read this, pray for his family to find him soon. To borrow a quote from one of my favorite people in the world, Ugandan missionary, Katie Davis: God didn't make too many kids, families just haven't stepped up to adopt their kids yet. So, Sasha's family is out there somewhere.....they just don't know it yet.

Remember, we will be sending money to http://www.reecesrainbow.com/ on Sasha's behalf during the month of January. Just note on your gift: $100 for 200 in 2010 For Sasha.

"Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you in return." Luke 6:38

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Update!

First: Lydia's final fundraising total is approximately $29,000.00. Money is still trickling in, and all additional funds are going to help the Hook family adopt Evangeline from Russia. The Hooks have started a blog, http://faithnotfearhooks.blogspot.com/ , to chronicle their journey to Evangeline. Check it out!

Second: We have received several responses about Lydia's "$100 for 200 in 2010" ministry project. People have joined in and are donating whatever they can.....some $100.00 per month and others $10.00 per month. Aren't you thankful God measures our heart and not the amount of the gift or the financial status of the giver??? Me too. I don't know how much we will raise each month, but through this experience with Lydia, I have learned NOT to put limitations on God or on the hearts of those who love Him.

This is the plan.....during the month of January, as a group, we will be donating to Sasha's adoption fund. Right now, he has $0 in his fund. We have close to 1000 hits on this blog each day, so surely we will get enough donations to give Sasha a great start. Here is how to do it:

1. Go to www.reecesrainbow.org
2. On the home page, look for the orange section that is near the center of the page.
3. Click on the words: "Donate as a Gift"
4. This will take you to the "Gift Donation" page
5. Choose to donate by using a credit card through the "donate" button OR mail a check made payable to Reece's Rainbow to the address given: Reece's Rainbow, P.O. Box 4024, Gaithersburg, MD 20885.
6. If you use PayPal, you will be given an "option instructions" section. In that section, type that the gift is to be used for the "$100 for 200 in 2010" FOR SASHA . If you mail a check, just include a note that says the same.
7. Donations for Sasha should be made sometime during the month of January. I will keep everyone updated on the total donations monthly.
8. Print off a picture of Sasha and place it on your refrigerator for the month. Each time you open the fridge, say: "Father, bless little Sasha".

Sorry to be so lengthy with instructions, but I know I will get questions and want to try to be as thorough as possible. Your donations will be tax deductible.

Try to imagine this time next year....if we are able to successfully come together each month to give money to an orphan through Reece's Rainbow.....as a group, we will be able to look back at twelve lives that will be forever changed because of our gifts. Who wouldn't want to be a part of this? Every penny you give will go straight to Sasha.

Our family is in for the $100.00 each month. Chappy and I are covering $50.00 per month, and the kids are doing chores to earn their part of the additional $50.00 per month. They want to be able to have ownership in the gift, and we are thrilled to encourage them in experiencing the blessing that comes through giving their hard earned money to help others. I think the experience is even more rewarding when you are helping someone who is unable to help himself....like little Sasha.

If you want to see the little guy, and I know you will, just go to www.reecesrainbow.org and click on the waiting children button. Next, choose "children with Down Syndrome, 0-2. Then scroll down to find Sasha (the adorable blonde wearing the red, blue, and yellow jumper).

Father, bless our efforts and our gifts.....and provide a family for little Sasha. Thank you for teaching us the joy that comes when we serve You by caring for the least of these.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jesus On An Airplane

The Sunday before Christmas, Melissa James asked her Sunday School students at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church to draw pictures of the Nativity. When the pictures were handed in, she saw that some of the youngsters had drawn the conventional pictures----the Holy Family and the manger, the Holy Family surrounded by shepherds, etc.

But she was confused by the drawing made by little Joshua. She called him up and asked him to explain his picture, which showed an airplane with four heads sticking out of the plane windows. She recognized Joseph, Mary, and the Baby Jesus.....but she asked: "Joshua, who is the fourth head?"

"Oh," answered Joshua, "that's Pontius the Pilot!"

Don't you love children? They have such wonderful innocence. I remember when Natalie was four and we were visiting Chappy's parents' in South Carolina. On Sunday morning, we all went to church together. Before giving the message, the Pastor typically brings the young children down to the front row to tell them the "children's" version of the message and to ask them questions. On this particular Sunday, before Christmas, he called for the children to come down front and had a microphone in hand. He happily introduced Lydia, Natalie, and Caleb who were visiting from Tennessee and then proceeded to ask a question: "What animal did Mary ride on when she was on her way to Bethlehem to give birth to Baby Jesus?"

Natalie, thrilled that she had been recognized as a visitor, shot her hand up in the air. The Pastor came straight to her, remarked how happy he was that a visitor would be so eager to answer the question.

With a booming voice, mouth right on the microphone, Natalie replied: "It was a moose!"

The place erupted in laughter. Natalie didn't care, she just turned around and laughed with the crowd. She had only been with us a little over a year at that time, so she was always getting things all turned around. That was one of many "Natalie Grace-isms" that we can chuckle about.

Life goes by so fast, doesn't it? Caleb is fifteen now.....Lydia and Natalie are eleven. I think about what our lives would've looked like if we hadn't added Hope and Charlie. In only 7 more years, we would've had an empty nest. Seven years ago, Natalie made the "It was a moose!" comment in church.....and it seems like yesterday.

Have you thought about what your future is going to look like? I was thinking of Chappy's parents and my parents the other day.....Chappy's parents have had an "empty nest" for 30 years.......my parents for 21 years. Neither one of our parents live near their children/grandchildren. Chappy and I would prefer to live near both sets of our parents, but in our "modern" day and time, it seems like people are forced to move wherever they can find the best jobs to provide for their families.

Like I said before, I've just been thinking......I'm happy I won't have an empty nest.....ever! Chappy and I both feel that way. If you are a parent of a special needs child, you know exactly what I mean.

Chappy and I had lunch with a friend today who has a son who is 42 and has Down Syndrome. I asked: "People always assume Hope and Charlie are "work" to me, but they aren't. Has Greg ever been a burden to you?" Without hesitation, he replied: "Goodness no, he has always been an absolute blessing and pleasure to me."

I have received many emails lately from people who are seriously contemplating adopting an orphan with Down Syndrome through Reece's Rainbow. I began this blog post with a story that represents the innocence and beauty of a child.....a person with Down Syndrome never loses that innocence and inward beauty. I can honestly say, our family never considers Charlie and Hopey to be "work".....instead, we feel like the most blessed family in the world to have discovered what unique joy and perspective they continually bring to our lives.

So to all of you fence straddlers.....just do it! God will never tell you NOT to take in "one of the least". Afterall, whatever you do for one of the least, you do for Him.

"By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going." Hebrews 11:8
Abraham didn't ask questions or ponder whether he should go......he certainly didn't know what his future would look like, because he didn't even know where on earth he was going.......he just did it!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Check, Check, and Check

1. OK, I have successfully filled each member of my family's "love tanks" for the day. CHECK.

2. I read the first chapter of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" out loud for the kiddos this evening (and even though we have read it every year for the last 10+ years, we laughed our heads off.) CHECK.

3. Now, I want to tell you about someone:

Tyquan is a cute little boy and such a joy to be around. He is full of energy and a very affectionate child. He loves showing his love by giving many hugs. Tyquan has become quite the entertainer. He enjoys singing and playing the drums. He also enjoys watching his favorite TV program: "SpongeBob Squarepants".

Developmentally, Tyquan continues to make strides toward positive growth. He attends a local primary school and is placed in a special needs program. He is progressing in speech development, knowledge retention, and is very interested in learning new things.

Tyquan would add so much love and happiness to a family. He needs a forever family that can provide love, support and advocate for him.

Tyquan has Down Syndrome, and he is African-American. He has no other health issues at all. He has been tied up in OUR system for years.....tossed about from one foster family to another....promised a home to only have it yanked away through absolutely no fault of his own. He is precious and has become LEGALLY FREE FOR ADOPTION!!! His adoption costs will be very low, too.......Big Shout For Tyquan!!!

So,

Do you know anyone who would be willing to completely abandon their heart to the Lord, jump out of their comfort zone, and give this little guy the best Christmas gift ever?

Do you know anyone who is so crazy in love with the Lord they would be willing to show Him their love by caring for "one of the least of these"?

Do you know anyone who is looking for a child who will ALWAYS call him/her his very favorite?

Who will love with every fiber that is in him?

Who will try harder than anyone you have ever met even though his body has some limitations?

Who will only see the positive side of life and never notice the negative?

Who will never know how to be angry?

If you do, please forward this post to them. Be warned, however, Tyquan's website picture is not the best. It is funny, but kids with Down Syndrome do not pose for pictures....you have to give them something to smile about before they will smile for you. If you say: "Smile", they just look at you as if to say: "Well, do something funny and I will be happy to smile!". Anyway, the person taking the picture did not work to make him look as cute as I know he can be. So, if you have the curiosity to take a peek, please do so with an open mind.

Tyquan can be found at:
http://www.adoptuskids.org/ and his case number is 90012797. He is 5 years old and is in the state of South Carolina. For very interested parties, I know Robin Steele (with the Down Syndrome Association of Cincinnati, OH) has been an advocate for him; in fact, she wrote an article about Tyquan in her latest newsletter. Her email is rsteele@zoomtown.com.

3. (continued from above) Told my friends about the best gift they could give and receive this season. CHECK.

"He predestined us to be adopted as his sons through the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless......" Isaiah 1:17

Monday, December 7, 2009

"The Best Christmas Pageant Ever"


We have many traditions around our house during the month of December, but one of my favorites centers around the book: "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" by Barbara Robinson.

Beginning tomorrow, I will read one chapter a day out loud before our nightly family meeting (the book has seven chapters). The book is about the Herdman kids who are possibly the most disorderly children who have ever lived. They are very poor, so when they learn they can get "free donuts" by going to the local church Sunday School, they eagerly start attending. Soon, they learn the church is hosting auditions for the annual Christmas Pageant, and the Herdmans manage to force themselves into the leading roles.

If you haven't read the book, I would suggest making it a new Christmas tradition in your home. It will fill you with insane laughter and then leave you in a puddle of tears, but most important, it will profoundly remind you of the true meaning behind this season of celebration!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

What's Your Love Language???

The kids get out of school this week.....YEH! Christmas Break!!!

***

We have spent so much time over the last several weeks, fundraising for others and serving others, that I have made a "sneaky" decision to really focus on each of my childrens' and husband's love language. I want to fill their love tanks over the next couple of weeks. Wanna join me?

***

Are you familiar with Love Languages? We all have one. If you don't know what yours is, look at the following list and decide which one you do for others the most. In other words, if you wanted to really show someone you love them, which would you do? The one you choose to give is probably the one you also prefer to receive.....your love language:

***

1. Words of Affirmation (Do you love it when someone gives you a verbal compliment? Do you compliment others?)



2. Quality Time (Do you enjoy taking walks, playing games, or having long conversations with a friend, your children, or your spouse?)



3. Receiving Gifts (Does it thrill you to give a gift to others....do you spend alot of time choosing the perfect gift? Do you love to receive an unexpected gift?)



4. Acts of Service (Are you a helper? Do you run errands to serve others? Do you cook meals for others when they are sick?)



5. Physical Touch (Are you a hugger and a hand-holder?)


***
Caleb is my "Words of Affirmation" fella'; so, if I spend time hugging him, while he may enjoy being hugged, I am not filling his love tank until I find ways to compliment him in areas he is doing well.

***

Lydia is my "Quality Time" girl; so, I will try to find time to spend alone with her.....even if just taking her with me to make a quick run to the grocery.

***

Natalie's gift is "Acts of Service", so I will try to do things like organize her chest of drawers, help her make her bed, or suggest we wash the dishes together after dinner.

***

Chappy's my hubby, so I am going to treat him extra-special by showing him all five love languages every day in some way.....but don't tell him! (Ha!)

***

Once you determine the love language of each member of your family, try to intentionally meet that love need for every member each and every day over the next two weeks. The results should be harmony galore!!! Hearts Full!!! The joy of giving instead of receiving!!!


***
OK, so who is in???



To close, I received a comment on the blog this evening about a little boy who needs a family very soon: http://www.findingkirilsfamily.blogspot.com/ . If you have an extra something you want to give this season, maybe you would want to help Kiril. He is disabled and has been bed-ridden in an institution for 6 months. He is waiting on a family. The findingkirilsfamily blog was started to see if people would gather together this season to give $1.00 and then ask someone else to give $1.00....passing the message along until all of the needed money is raised and Kiril can be given the gift of life, love, and a forever-family. I'm joining the effort; maybe you will want to as well!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Big Props For The Movie: "The Blind Side"

If you have adopted a child or ever think you might adopt a child (or foster a child), you must see the movie "The Blind Side". It beautifully depicts what all of us know in our hearts: there are children who have been abandoned in our world, out of no fault of their own, and they deserve a chance.

How many of you have ever thought about adopting a child through http://www.adoptuskids.org/ ? There are thousands that are available right now for adoption at barely any cost at all to the adoptive family. Sometimes there is no cost.

I have received hundreds of emails from families who have said they want to adopt but cannot afford an international adoption. Go see this movie. It does us all some good to be reminded there are kids in our own country who need a family too. AND, every child who has been abandoned is a special needs kid.....the "least of these". Their special needs? A family. People who know their favorite things. Consistency. Love. Boundaries. Dinner around a table. To belong. To be tucked in at night. To learn about God.

If you step out in faith and visit http://www.adoptuskids.org/, you will get to choose the age range and number of children you would consider (sibling group anyone?) For instance, when I pulled up the age range from six years old to ten years old, chose that I would consider adopting one child only, 430 children popped up on the screen. 28 pages of them......faces, names, stories, dreams, gifts, talents, etc. Alot of the kids have dark skin. Who cares, though, right? Two well known Creation Scientists teach that Adam and Eve were "brown". Did you know that?

"Adam and Eve were most likely a middle brown color carrying both dominant and recessive genes for the pigment melanin in the skin. Children who received all the dominant genes would end up with a lot of the color and be very dark. Children who received all the recessive genes would end up with only a little color and be very light. Children with a mixture of the genes would be middle brown......To form different people groups with distinguishing characteristics, one would need to split up the population and isolate groups from one another."
(Taken from http://www.answersingenesis.org/ ---Ken Hamm)

Sound like segregation to you? (I wonder if segregation really did begin at the Tower of Babel?)

And John Mackay (www.creationresearch.net) does an entire DVD series called "History of Man" which includes topics such as: Does Man Evolve? Was Adam Black? Babel: What Happened? Noah at the Tower? Different Races, How? It is very interesting; Mackay literally PROVES Adam and Eve had dark skin and leaves you with a great big WOW! We have owned the DVD for several years.

Some may think I am a bit off the wall this evening. I think it is this whole "Crazy Love" thing we have going on in our home thanks to Francis Chan's book. Over the last several weeks, our entire family has had an overwhelming desire to love the whole world......care for children who are longing for a home.....feed the hungry.....visit the widows and widowers.....shout about how great our God is!

What would your Christmas card look like next year if there was a new face that noticeably didn't belong? Would people think you are crazy.....or crazy in love???