A close, dear friend of mine and her husband are adopting a little girl from China. Eeek! We have been real-life friends for years and they followed our adoption journey last year. This sweet, sweet family could use our help!
To help raise money for their adoption, they are selling some neat T-shirts. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all show them the love and buy a t-shirt from them!?! Can we rally around them and show our support?
Maybe you could afford more than one shirt and could buy some for family and friends for Christmas! (Not to early to think about Christmas gifts, you know?!)
To order a t-shirt you can paypal them the money or mail them a check. Or you can pay me and I can get it to them for you. Check out their neat design!
To sweeten the deal, I’m going to offer a giveaway on this blog!! If you order a t-shirt(s), leave me a comment below and you’ll be entered to win this prize pack for each shirt you buy!…
-An additional shirt that you can keep or give away!
-A copy of “Journey to the Fatherless” by Lawrence Bergeron (an excellent book!!)
-A $10 gift card to Chick-Fil-A
So after you place your t-shirt order, come back here and let me know in the comments!! Let me know how many shirts you purchased and you’ll get one entry for each shirt you purchased! One random winner will be picked on October 16th.
Can you do me one more favor? Can you share this giveaway with your friends and family? Not only can you have an entry for EACH t-shirt you buy, but you can also have another entry for each place that you share this giveaway (facebook, your blog, via email, etc). Let me know in the comments how you shared and you’ll get an entry for each method of sharing!
From Their Blog:
We have a custom designed t-shirt available for purchase to help fund our adoption! If you would like to place an order, please complete our “Contact Us” form and include your quantities, sizes and shipment information, if needed.
The shirts are 100% pre-shrunk cotton, so they should fit true to size.
The cost: $20 per shirt (S, M, L, XL) (XXL and XXXL are $2 more)
Shipping: $4 for one shirt or you can pick them up in person for FREE. If you are ordering more than one shirt, please contact us for shipping costs.
The Impact: PRICELESS!
Deadline: October 15th (Please have all orders and payment in by this day)
You can pay using the PayPal “Donate” button on the right side of our blog or in person by cash/check. If you would like to mail us a check and need our address, please fill out our “Contact Us” form and we’ll send it to you.
Please note that this is a pre-order and it will be a few weeks before the order is processed. Payment is needed before we place our order. Also, the more t-shirts we sell…the more funds will be going directly toward the adoption. Please help us reach 75+ t-shirt sales by sharing this post with others you think might be interested in purchasing a shirt to help bring this precious little girl home to her “forever family.”
Thanks in advance!
Here is a link to their blog with more information.
Here is a Powerful video that will mess with your heart and complacency…
Some quotes from the video…
“It’s not that we don’t care about this little starving child in Liberia. We care. But we can go home and sleep tonight just fine. How is that? It’s because there’s an indifference to that life. It’s not affecting us. It’s not in our backyard. We’re not related to it. We say, “It’s someone else’s issue.” We quote Scripture even, “God’s a Father to the fatherless.” But we are His body. Our hands, they are Christ’s hands. Our feet, they are His feet. God says “I work through you. I’m a Father to the fatherless through YOU. I rescue the weak and vulnerable through YOU. And if you’re not doing it, no one is.” There is a solution to dying children. It’s Jesus changing us. We cannot stay in suburbia USA and do nothing if Christ is in us. Heroes are moved in their heart. Do we care at the level that God cares? When we go home tonight, do we grieve over the fact that those children are God’s children and He’s longing for an advocate to stand up and say “I’m willing to fight for what is Yours.” For our King and His glory, we must rescue these little ones. What if that was your child? You would claw through a concrete wall with your bare hands to go and rescue them.”
Did you know that through Hands Against Hunger you can buy clean water for orphans?! Each $1 bottle of water that you pay for will make 15 gallons of clean water for orphans!! When my children saw this, they quickly went to their “Give Jars” to see how many gallons of water they could pay for! (They each have a Give, a Save, and a Spend jar of their own).
They did have a few bucks to buy some but I knew we could do more. So I made them “Work Out for Water.” :-) They did exercises to earn more water for orphans. It was so fun! The whole time we were all cheering, “Come on, do a few more, this gives orphans clean water! They need you, don’t give up! Dirty water is making them sick, do as many as you can!” It was all in fun and a total blast! It makes them beam to be able to give, especially when they feel like they ‘worked’ for it. So precious.
So here are our totals…
Alex’s “Give Jar” Money- $3
Caden, Cole, and Emily’s “Give Jar” Money- $1 (that’s all they had combined!)
Total Amount of Seconds Doing Mountain Climbing Exercise: 43 + 59 + 20 + 21= 143 Seconds!
Total Number of Push-Ups: 22 + 30 + 17 + 7 = 76 Push-Ups!
So enough to buy 223 bottles of water! That will purify/ clean 3, 345 gallons of water!!
I share only because I’d love for others to get in on the fun too!…
How many gallons can you and/or your children pay for this month?? Even just $8 will purify 120 gallons of water!
(Hands Against Hunger is one of the only non-profits that has an overhead cost of less than 10%. They spend 91% of all donations on getting food and water directly to impoverished children around the world. They feed 10,000 children Every. Single. Day. And you can help them make a difference!)
One year ago today we were in China and met our son Cole for the first time. In the past 12 months Cole has had his First Thanksgiving, First Christmas, First Celebrated Birthday, First Baseball Games, First Splash Pads, First Church, First Pony Ride, First Tricycle… lots and lots of Firsts.
Although it’s been hard, I do wish every orphan could have fun times with family like Cole has gotten. Orphanage life is awful… not being cared for, no one to tuck you in at night, no one to laugh and play with you, lack of food, lack of nutrition, total lack of love, no parents to call your own, abuse and neglect often. Utter helplessness and despair, no child deserves that.
Different families celebrate Gotcha Day in different ways. For us, we wanted the focus to be on those still left behind. So we all went shopping and each of our children got to pick out an outfit for a boy/ girl their age.
Oh the excitement! They had so much fun picking out things they liked, carrying them around for days, and then packing it all up together today. The package is now on its way to Cole’s former orphanage in China! We also sent pictures of Cole from the last year so that they can see how he’s grown and things he’s done, along with some Bibles (2 in Mandarin, 2 in English), and some vitamins.
Last week we were playing outside with other neighbor children and I told two of the mom’s what we were doing. They were so sweet and wanted to get in on the giving also. Thank you to Michelle and Melanie for giving a 5th outfit for a girl and to Julie for giving teddy bears!
Here are pictures of their goodies and them at the post office today. Shipping cost was about as much as all the gifts, yikes! But when I told my 7-year-old how much it was, he said “Oh well, it’s worth it, this is for the orphans.” He’s so right!
Great news… we’re adding to our family!
God adds to families in different ways. Adoption is an amazingly beautiful picture of an orphaned child having a HOME, a FAMILY. Breathtakingly amazing stories of the lives of these children being changed forever.
He also adds to families by the miracle of birth. Also amazingly beautiful and precious.
And that’s how He’s chosen to add to ours this time, by birth.
We are BEYOND excited and thrilled to welcome a new little life into our home!
We are obviously still very passionate about orphan care and do many things to support orphans around the world. We LOVE children and want to see them all have families and be loved and cared for. (And I would love to hear how God is using you in our world’s orphan care crisis, so many of you have shared amazing stories with me of how God has gripped your heart, even using our adoption story to do so. We are so touched!!)
To answer all the questions I know you’ll ask…
We’re due near the first week in October!
No, we don’t know the gender, we choose not to find out until the birth. Makes for an exciting birth-day!
Yes, I’m feeling great, been complication-free thus far!
Some people have gasped for air when they’ve found out I was expecting our 5th child (anyone who has seen me in person has easily guessed the news, I do have a growing belly!) I’ve had amazing friends who are super excited for us and then I’ve had the response of, “Oh my, was this an accident? Are you guys going to be okay? Can you handle this? You already have your hands so full, how in the world will you be able to do this?”
We love babies, we love family, we love life! We are THRILLED to welcome another little one into our family. Children ARE a blessing! Truly not a burden!
Will it be more ‘work’ for us? Sure, little ones require a lot of attention and care. But what better way to spend your days then to care for little lives being shaped and molded into what God has for them!
And for those of you adding to your family through adoption, we are also BEYOND excited for you and your family!! So many amazing stories of what God is doing around the world through people who are willing! Thank you for being willing, thank you for saying YES!
Below is an article from another website I found interesting…
I met you in the elevator on my way back from the pediatrician’s office. It was just me and Wren, and you looked at her fondly in her stroller. When the elevator doors opened, you very kindly held the doors open for me. As I clumsily maneuvered the stroller past you, I accidentally ran over your foot. “Don’t worry about it,” you assured me over my profuse apologies. “I have three children myself,” you revealed to me. My eyes traveled to your big belly. There was an awkward pause as I wondered if I could assume she was pregnant. “And I’m expecting my fourth,” you admitted. “Congratulations!,” I tell her. “That is wonderful!” I see the relief spread across her face. “Thank you!” she says, and I could tell she meant it. “You have no idea how many people offer their condolences when they find out this is my fourth. Or they ask me if this was planned.” “How rude of them,” I reply. “All children are a blessing.”
As we parted ways, I felt an immense sorrow for what our society has become. When did having a large family become equivalent to a tragic event? Why do people think that seeing a mother with lots of children automatically entitle them to make rude comments concerning her family planning? Countless strangers in grocery stores have seen me with my three little ones and impertinently asked me how many children I was planning on having. I don’t know, person I have never met before. Tell you what, how about next week I will bring my husband here and all three of us will discuss our family planning and come up with a number you find suitable. Or figure out which ones to eliminate if you feel I have too many already. But honestly, the only answer for the impertinent question of how many children I am going to have is: all of them.
And why are people so obsessed with whether a pregnancy is “planned” or not? Does the child from a “planned” pregnancy have more value than the child of an “unplanned” pregnancy? As to the answer to this other impertinent question, my only answer is: yes, God planned for this child from time immemorial, and I will do my best with this life that is entrusted to me.
There seems to be some unspoken rule that you are only allowed to have two children: one girl and one boy, about 2-5 years apart. If you mess up and fail to meet the gender quota of one of each, you are permitted to go out on a limb and have a third. However, you will risk endless ridicule from strangers if you really mess up and end up with (God forbid ) THREE of the same gender. I have never understood this stock portfolio approach to child bearing. If you are looking for variety, you get plenty of that within the same gender, trust me. Besides, I hate to point out the obvious, but no matter what you plan on having, you get what you get. As much as we want to, we can’t control everything. Especially when it comes to child bearing. I’m ok with that mostly because I’m religious, but I’m digressing from the point of this post.
I have three girls who are each about a year apart. This, for some reason, makes people feel uncomfortable. They are constantly trying to rationalize my unconscionable decision to have that many children so close in age with either: 1) that we kept unsuccessfully trying for a boy, or 2) we are “getting it out of the way quickly”. To be honest, I don’t even know what # 2 means. We’re having children, not going in for a root canal. I have stopped even trying to explain to people that no, we just like having children. That just doesn’t compute. Who would have three children close together ON PURPOSE? Because, I mean, isn’t it difficult? And so not worth it? Maybe if I told them I am a rebel who is swimming against the stream I will garner more support. Being rebellious is always cool, right?
Benjamin Franklin was one of ten children (UPDATE: a kind reader has informed me that he was actually the youngest of seventeen!) Beethoven was one of seven, and JFK was one of nine! Every child has the potential to do something great in the world. So please, give the mother of these children the support and encouragement she needs whether it is her first child or her ninth. Because your last child deserves just as much excitement as your first.
And to the lady in the elevator, a thousand times congrats. You are truly blessed.
A Post From Adeye at No Greater Joy Mom…
Exactly four years ago, Anthony and I were in an apartment in Ukraine with our two newly adopted daughters. We had recently made the grueling train ride from the place of their birth to Kiev with our precious girls who both have Down syndrome. We were more than ready to head home!
Harper was so young and just loving all of the attention she was receiving. At two years of age, her little heart had found a home and she was lapping up the cuddles.
Hailee, on the other hand, was desperately struggling!
We sat on the floor that day with our just-turned five-year-old who was disoriented, afraid, manic, and completely out of sorts, and I wrote THIS POST.
Weighing in at just 14 pounds, our tiny Hailee was battling terribly to adjust. She knew no other life but that of a crib and was suffering from the horrendous side effects of being given an adult tranquilizing drug for five years! She had slept most of her life away thanks to that awful medication (after all, a sleeping child is an easy child). Touch was torturous! Being outdoors was frightening. Having SPACE was terrifying (after being confined to four sides of a tiny crib). She was so drugged that she was hardly able to sit alone. The backs of her ears were raw and horribly infected from being constantly scratched and pulled on. Her sweet little head bore the scars of the self-harming, self-soothing behavior of being banged up against crib bars. She was so agitated and literally unable to cope with life outside of those tiny walls.
She cried and wailed. Endlessly!
The emotional trauma of being taken out of the only (tiny) environment that she had ever known was just too much for our fragile darling.
Anthony and I dealt with every emotion in the book in those days. Beyond exhausted and in survival mode, we wondered what the future would look like with this little girl who we felt God call us to go and bring home.
We knew that life would never be the same again.
But what we didn’t know four years ago was that the journey would turn out so very differently to what we ever imagined it could.
Because when God calls us to lay our lives down for the sake of one of His precious children, not only is it for the good of the child who needs us…
…but it’s also for OUR good.
As I tried to bond with my little girl in those weeks in Ukraine, I confess that there were many days when I looked at her and asked of the Lord, “Why this one, Lord?”
“How can I parent a child whom I have NO idea how to care for?”
“How can I fall in love with a fragile little girl who wants absolutely nothing to do with me?”
“How can I be a good mother to a child who is so very broken, so desperately needy?”
I cried so many tears in those weeks. In all my humanness and with my miniscule mustard seed of faith, I had no idea how this adoption was going to work out. I was beyond intimidated at the mere thought of navigating a road that I knew nothing about.
I had previously been that mother—the one who begged the Lord for healthy babies. I had been the mom who scrutinized every ultrasound making sure that there were no abnormalities.
And here I was. My very comfortable life as I once knew it up on the altar.
Was I really willing to learn sacrificial love?
Fear rose up in my heart too many times to count.
But in the quietness of the night, after spending long days with the two children who we were about to commit to adopting, when I dug so deep in my faith, I knew this one thing with absolute certainty:
When God calls us and we say yes…our yes must be yes! I knew that by putting my life, my heart, my family, my dreams and desires, and my obedience on the table…
…I could simply never go back!
Fear could never make me walk away from what God had called us to do.
Because I knew a truth so deep down in my own heart.
When God calls His people, He equips us with everything that we need to do the job with excellence. He never promises us that it will be easy, but He does promise us that He will lead and guide us every step of the way—holding our hands through the trials and giving us peace in the valley.
He never abandons us on the mission field!
I learned what it means to CLING in those days!
To CLING with everything that I had!
It’s blurry, but it’s our first picture together. Tiny Hailee at nearly five years of age.
God has taught me so much through this child. I cringe when I recall how many times I wanted an easier road four years ago. I’m ashamed at how little faith I had to trust my God in heaven…knowing that He was exceedingly, abundantly able to do immeasurably more than what I could ever hope or dream of. Now, I weep at the thought of this precious little angel not being here with us.
The Father has used Hailee to grow my faith…
…to stretch my heart’s capacity to love unconditionally.
…to crucify my selfish, fleshly desires.
And to show me that every single child—no matter how broken, how needy, how unlovely, how sick, how abused, how discarded, how abandoned, how painfully neglected—every child has infinite worth and value.
Every child has HOPE.
Yes, it’s true. Hailee has astounded us in how far she has come. She has blossomed in every way! Of course there are still challenges. But today Hailee is the happiest, most amazing, sweetest, full-of-joy, energetic, loving, koala-bear-cuddling, 31-pound little girl you will ever meet. God sure has done such a redeeming miracle in her life. She is a new creation in every sense of the word.
But, the greatest change?
That definitely would be in me!
I am no longer the same person I was four years ago. God has used this one child on the planet to change me from the inside out. I see things differently because God knew that I needed this tiny girl. Truth be told, I needed Hailee so much more than she needed me.
I have learned that God never calls His people to easy. No, He calls us to dig deep in His promises when we’re holding on for dear life.
I have learned that there is so much joy indescribable in pressing in and embracing difficult.
I have learned that when we are faithful…so is He!
I have learned that obedience is absolutely, 100% worth every fear, every tear, every doubt, and every moment when I felt like life as I knew it was about to end (because it sure did, thank goodness!).
And I have learned that there is no sweeter place to be than completely surrendered to the will of God.
I look back today and I am weepy with emotion. To think how easy it would have been to walk away from one of the greatest blessings that the Father could ever have given us is more than my heart can stand.
I just cannot imagine life without my spunky Hailee in it.
Happy 9th Birthday, my darling Hailee. What a joy and a delight you are to us!
Thank you, sweet girl, for showing me time and time again that even when I feel like I can’t, Jesus CAN.
Would you join me this morning to pray for the children who are suffering today?
Children who have no one to call for help.
Children that have given up because their cries are not answered.
Children that are bedridden because no one feels they are worthy.
Children who are suffering from neglect and hunger.
Christians – this is a DAILY occurrence in many countries around the world. Languages and cultures may be different but children need love and they need us to act when we see this injustice.
I am beside myself this morning with grief as I see lavish vacations, cars that cost more than an annual salary, and houses that have the best of everything. People who have so much yet don’t “feel called” to help those who don’t.
Jesus has called us to pick up our cross and follow him. The cross is heavy and we don’t want to sacrifice —
But we need to be convicted today. Convicted enough that we will DO SOMETHING to help.
Money – time – prayer – mission trips– PRAY about it and don’t turn your back on children who are languishing in foster care or orphanages or homes that are less than suitable. God is bigger than any of these and He will challenge you to move for Him.
Does God want us to seek material things of no eternal value?
These children have NO ONE else to count on but those of us who know what a Savior can do when there is no hope in anything else.”
This is a quote by William Booth about seeking the lost to be saved, but can also be applied well to helping the helpless…
“‘Not called!’ did you say? ‘Not heard the call,’ I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters, and servants and masters not to come there. And then look Christ in the face, whose mercy you have professed to obey, and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.” William Booth
Nine months ago today, our family of 5 became a family of 6 by flying to China to pick up a little boy we had never met.
Psalm 68:6, “God setteth the solitary in families.”
Cole had spent the first 2 1/2 years of his life in an orphanage where food was lacking, and love was lacking even more. He looked frail and very malnourished and was scared. He exhibited orphanage behaviors that were hard to watch.
My three biological children have went from having a no-stress kind of life to having to watch us work through many hard issues. There have been some difficult times over the last 9 months.
Grafting in a newly adopted child has been a challenge and I have failed miserably more times than I can count. But with my eyes on the cross, I can crawl my way to Jesus and ask for strength and wisdom and help. God has been faithful! We are making more and more progress every day!
And we know that God wouldn’t have had it any other way. Just like every child all around the world, children just want to be loved and tickled and nurtured. All children are the same in this regard. A child’s life is infinitely more valuable than things, comforts for ourselves, or ease of living. A child’s life IS truly worth the sacrifice.
Cole has grown leaps and bounds. If you saw him playing outside, you’d never know he spent 2 1/2 years in a poor orphanage in China. He’s a typical American child. He runs and laughs and plays. He sings and jumps and kicks balls. In the beginning he ate MASSIVE amounts of food, and can still eat more than any of my other children. But he’s learned that he can quit when he’s full and that there will be more later.
Some days, this is what I need to remind me why I”m doing what I’m doing…
“He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” Ecclesiastes 5:10
“Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the desire” Ecclesiastes 6:9
We were designed to only be able to find true fulfillment and satisfaction in God alone, nothing else can leave a person feeling content and satisfied. Nothing.
I really like these two verses. If we love silver (money) or if we love abundance, neither will satisfy us. And isn’t that so true! Most all of us can probably attest to that one… we wanted more, more, more. We got it (even though we don’t admit it), but then we wanted more, more, more. We’re never satisfied!
We think that if only we were ‘rich like so-and-so’, THEN we’d be happy and could have everything we desire. Not really, because then we’d desire MORE, MORE, MORE.
I bet God looks at us and says “Oh child, when oh when will you be satisfied and thankful and content? Your desire for more is keeping you from Me.”
I want to stop desiring more of this world, but instead desire more, more, more of CHRIST! We spend so much time researching and buying new products, how much time do we spend reading our Bibles (God’s daily provision to us) and praying to Him? I’m going to bet that if we just stopped buying things, and spent all that extra shopping/ researching time in God’s Word, we’d FINALLY be content!
The second verse… Better is what we have right here and right now, than the things that we desire that we don’t currently have. The BEST gifts we have are the ones we have right NOW. Not the things that we desire to have later. Don’t think so? Try Ann Voskamp’s 1,000 gifts challenge!
Here are some other verses that have influenced me and the way I think about “stuff.”
“Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.” Proverbs 27:20
It is WAY better to get wisdom and understanding than to get riches (see Proverbs 16:16).
“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man (The American Dream?); but the end thereof are the ways of death.” Proverbs 16:25
“He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat (food), let him do likewise.” Luke 3:11b
“We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities (weaknesses) of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Romans 15:1
“And be content with your wages.” Luke 3:14b
“In the day of wrath… riches profit not: but righteousness delivereth from death.” Proverbs 11:4 (Only righteousness can deliver us, certainly not riches).
“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1 Timothy 6:6
“Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I man know how frail I am.” Psalm 39:4 (If we only knew how FRAIL our lives were, we’d probably live them quite differently. We sometimes forget that we are not promised tomorrow).
March 25, 2014
Christianity Today reported yesterday (Monday) that the American branch of World Vision has announced it now will permit employment of “gay” Christians in legal same-sex marriages.”
This decision by World Vision to equate homosexual “marriage” to natural marriage between a man and a woman is in direct conflict with the Holy Scriptures.
The first chapter of Romans is very clear. World Vision has abandoned the warning of Paul and compromised the integrity of a ministry financially supported by Christians who regard Scripture as the final authority on the issue.
Christians who support World Vision should stop as should all of the artists and authors who raise money for them. There are many other organizations (see below) that sponsor children around the world who remain true to the gospel.
If you would like to express your thoughts or cancel your financial support to World Vision, you can contact them here:
Tim Wildmon, President
American Family Association
**You can see organizations that I, Beka, personally support by clicking here.
**By the way, if you don’t subscribe to AFA’s FREE Magazines or their AFA Action Alerts, I HIGHLY recommend them!!! AFA does an excellent job of keeping businesses and organizations in check on the kind of advertising they do and for the stances their companies take. If you want to change our nation, teaming up with AFA is a great start! Be involved by reading their alerts and notifying companies of your opinions!
This was such a neat story from RainbowKids.com…
“Brian and I are a couple that met in our mid 30’s, married a bit later and started the parenting journey with our biological son Mac just as we were dancing around the rim of our 40’s. And yes, our 40’s have proven to be a strong cup of coffee that we gulped down, having no idea of the temperature or knowing the jolt that it would bring!
Mac had just turned one and sleep was still an unfamiliar luxury in our house so the smart phone came in handy for nightly insomnia. One night as I was thinking about our family’s future, feeling that little tug that has always been in my heart to adopt, I started snooping around on Rainbowkids.com, a website that is kind of an umbrella that catches pretty much all things adoption, the waiting kids, the country programs, the special needs info, everything in one place. I was on the website, messing around with the photo-listing criteria and before you do the “search” you are supposed to pick what special needs your family could best handle. Being a burn survivor myself and having had the past experience of working with kids that were burn survivors, I wondered if there were any burn survivors children availalbe for adoption. I unchecked every box except “Burns” and hit the SEARCH button.
In exactly 2 seconds I had a set of black eyes staring back at me and a very strong voice in my heart that said: “There is your answer, she is your WHY.”
Let me back up a bit and explain. I’m one of those people that believe in finding a purpose in the twists and turns of life. If something great happens, I want to translate it into a future purpose. If something bad happens in my life, I can usually keep a pretty good attitude about it if I can manage to find a positive direction or up-side as a result. I know this strategy doesn’t always work and some tragedies never reveal a purpose or up-side. Good or bad, it is the way my brain processes life. And because my life held a serious and unresolved “tragedy”, there remained, until that moment when I first saw my future-daughter’s eyes, a inner-conflict that kept me from finding true peace in my life.
As a 34 year old single woman, I found myself looking in the mirror and seeing a person whose neck, torso and arms literally looked like red, brown, black and bloody, half-cooked, half-raw ground beef. I wasn’t able to find much purpose or up-side in that state of being. I had cadaver skin stapled to my back and covering half my face and neck. My torso and lower arms were one giant open wound. I found it hard to even look at myself, changed forever, without getting woozy.
Months after my accident, searching to find the golden lining, I comically joked with my doctor at a bandage change appointment that I was really lucky since the accident could have taken my eyesight. He guffawed and replied, “Lucky! You may be the unluckiest person I know. You were on a beach with over 10,000 people and you were the only one that got blown up. I would say that you are remarkably unlucky!”
After my recovery I spent a few years working with a camp in Georgia for children who were burn survivors. I fell in love with these little soldiers, they were so brave and resilient! They taught me how to move past a random accident and get on with life and most importantly: do it with a smile on my face! Those little angels turned me around and got me back in stride and I will treasure them forever for that gift. I was able to move forward and see the good in my world at every turn but I still had restlessness inside of me about the WHY. I know God must find me exhausting at times and surely wants to just shake me and scream “GIRL JUST LET IT GO and MOVE ON!”
I frequently had conversations with God, asking the same questions over and over: Why did I get burned? and What do YOU want me to do with this? and Did you really just want me to stop wearing a bikini? Oh please let there be a purpose, a reason for me sitting here in my car and scratching my insanely itchy scars until blood runs through my shirt, wondering if I will ever be able to date again, ever get married, or ever have a family.
And as you know, I did get married and start a family and we had a life that gave me a thousand things to be thankful for every single day. I didn’t have my WHY yet and sometimes I thought it was just one of those things that happen for no reason and I would have to stop picking at it; let it heal and move on.
Those years of struggle and frustration, trying to find the WHY were important. They prepared me for the moment when those dark brown eyes would meet mine, if only through that first photo. So that I would have perfect clarity. In truth, I also felt relief. As if my soul exhaled and with great calm I finally knew WHY.
She was the answer, she was the WHY. Her eyes were not begging (though her heart might have been), they were strong, they were certain; it was as if she was staring back at us saying, “Okay, so what are you waiting for? I need a family that can love me the way I need to be loved: are you in or are you out? Yes or No?”
Holy WOW! My husband was going to die of a heart attack at age 41, I was 100% sure of it! I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God was asking our family to step forward for this little girl. He put her front and center because he knew that our life experience would be what she needed to conquer life in spite of her burns.
I emailed the adoption agency, just an innocent inquiry and BAM!, her whole file was there the next morning with instructions for moving ahead with the adoption. HA!! The adoption that was 100% non-existent in the mind of my husband.
I knew from my own recent experience that it would be hard for a child to overcome significant physical differences in our society saturated with perfect looking Disney princesses perched on every corner. Then doubt started flooding in like a tidal wave. We were 40-something new parents; a little late to this game! Were we even capable of this type of parenting? This isn’t patty-cake parenting we are talking about here. How would we help her navigate those really hard times that were guaranteed to come her way as she tried to grow up in a world surrounded by all things superficial. Maybe we would be horrible at meeting her needs and she would be better off with someone else, someone else that had parented a child with physical differences. Heck, someone that had parented a child period! We were total rookies.
Then I read her whole file. She was amazing, she was perfect, she had personality and charm and was loved by all! And then I came to one line in her file that made this a “no turning back” situation. The file was very detailed about her great progress in the orphanage school. She was the child that hit all her developmental milestones without a worry. She never got sick, she memorized poems and songs, she was very loved by all of her caretakers, they nicknamed her “Little Sweetie”.
And then this one little comment leapt from the paper. Put there during a developmental evaluation in her country of birth, someone thought that it was important to point out:
“She is a smart girl although she is not pretty.”
Excuse me? Did someone honestly feel that it was necessary to put that in writing on a permanent medical record? Who does that!?
That was it, I was done. I gathered the information and gave it to my husband, this train needed to leave the station and soon!
After his head stopped spinning from trying to find out where exactly this freight train came from, he took the file I had printed out and read it and deliberated for about a week. Then finally one night he walked out of the bedroom and slapped the folder down on the table and said, “I think this is insane but I know it is what we are supposed to do. Let’s get going.”
We started the paper chase and met many great new friends in the adoption world that helped us navigate the steps. We sent about 6 care packages over to Luci during that year-long wait and we usually received pictures back of her surviving well in the only world she had ever known: the life of an orphan. A life where you share clothes, share food, share care-takers, share attention, share beds. Nothing belongs to you, and you belong to no one. A child would have to really fight to develop their own personal identity when every aspect of their life is a generalized group endeavor from eating to sleeping to basic acknowledgement from an adult.
The first thing I learned about my little girl: She’s a fighter. When my mother and I arrived to meet Luci for the first time it was obvious that she was her own person. That little 4-year-old girl, dressed in pink from head to toe, stood there and sang us a song, did a dance, flashed her dimples: she was no shrinking violet! There was of course some crying when this little brave one realized that her orphanage caretakers of 4 years were actually speaking the truth when they told her that I was her mommy and she was going to the USA. She tried to put on a brave face but I think she realized that this day wasn’t a song and dance, it wasn’t a performance to get someone to smile at her. It was very real, and it scared her.
After some consoling she decided that the funny sounding ladies that gave her candy and a much loved pink cupcake purse were at least tolerable and we all walked out of that room and went on with our lives.
She got a crash course in what it means to be a daughter in a real family that loves her and I got a crash course in being a 40 year old mom to a very creative and smart daughter. This was a new gig for both of us.
Luci has been a part of our family for a little over two years now and you may wonder why my recollections of our history include very little about her burns. That is her “Special Need” after all. But honestly, that is only just the label that her country chose to use to identify her. Burned Orphan.
That’s not who Luci is! Not even close. Luci is bright and vibrant, she is filled with joy! She is colorful and funny and strong. When her life got hard she didn’t crumble, turn to dust and blow away in the wind. She found her resolve and put on a brave face and moved forward, scars and all.
No her special need is not her burn scars that cover her head and face.
Her special need is that she is a funny, artistic, drama queen, that had the misfortune of being stuck with a mamma that is unsympathetic to drama, lacks creativity, and is a very bad artist. Her special need is a dad that is incapable of saying “no” when he sees her dimples and a little brother that wants to play with her non-stop and always puts a big dent in her sticker collection. Her special need is that she is always quick to share candy with her brother and he hasn’t quite grasped the concept fully.
I will always be partial to kids that are burn survivors because they seem to have a strength and resilience that I don’t see in most adults. They are the skills that we all really need in order to do this life well. Traits that they were forced to develop at a very young age as a result of a tragedy that was no fault of their own.
Unfortunately without a family that loves them and gives them the support and strength they need, these little warriors will never reach their potential and that is the real tragedy.
A horrible accident early in Luci’s life resulted in her being an orphan and ultimately becoming a part of our family. I wish I could make her burns go away, I wish she could have grown up in her birth family and shared with them her joy, her love, her sparkling eyes and sweet dimples. That is the way her life was supposed to be. The truth is, life doesn’t happen for anyone the way it is “supposed” to happen. We are all carrying scars, hurts, and painful experiences in our hearts. For Luci and I, our scars also appear on the outside.
Adoption is a life lesson in moving forward, scars and all.
Our family can’t give Luci back the family and life she lost as a result of that horrible accident. We can decide to move forward with her and try every day to give her the love and patience she needs to move forward herself. To help her have the strength and confidence in who she is and not see her scars as the attributes that define her.
Our whole family is so thankful that we were able to see clearly and truly see LUCI in that photo listing picture and say YES when she needed us to step in and be there! Every day she goes about the business of being a happy little girl with no idea how much she is teaching everyone around her valuable lessons in strength, confidence, and patience. We needed her in our family as much as she needed us.
I think I need to drop my burn doctor a little note telling him how very wrong he was about me being the unluckiest person he knew. I am the luckiest woman in the world! I am Luci’s mom!
This story was written by Luci’s loving mom, Tara and contributed by the Gladney Asia Program. Thank you for inspiring others to consider a Waiting Child!
View Children Waiting For Their Family Now!
Lacy, a dear mom I’ve gotten to know in the online adoption community, is in China right now. Her story is very special to me because when we traveled last August, I held her son. While he waited for his family to come, I got to take pictures, video, ask questions, and snuggle with him for just a few moments.
They have him now!! He has a Dada!! He has a Mama!! An orphan no more!! One less!!
My heart is broken though, they just visited his orphanage, our son’s former home. Please click on over to read about all she saw while there.
I’m heartbroken over their visit and the state of that orphanage and most all orphanages. Unfathomable. We need to get children out of there. So badly. I’m so sad all those children have to stay there another day longer, most going to be there until they age out.
So many of you have huge hearts for the orphan. But there are TONS of Christians who have absolutely no burden for the fatherless. How can this be? God’s army, you need to rise up! These children need YOU!
“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” Hebrews 13:3
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” Matthew 25:40
“Praise the Lord. Praise the name of the Lord; praise him, you servants of the Lord.” ~~ Psalm 135:1
I don’t know about you, but I really struggle to watch the news. Anthony will often hear something on the radio while he’s driving and later ask me, “Honey, did you hear about what happened today?” My answer is always no. There is just so much heartache and bad news, and I must admit that my heart struggles to deal with it all sometimes. So much loss, pain, and tragedy.
Over the last few weeks, God has been reminding me so often to put on a garment of praise (Isaiah 61:3)…to always have a heart that is thankful for the things that He is doing in and through His people. So often, I forget.
God is alive and well and more than able to carry every burden on our hearts. Too often I lose sight of the fact that He is indeed a faithful God…
Jehovah Jireh (our provider).
The Great I Am.
He truly has done great things!
“Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him!” ~~ Psalm 147:1
How good it is to sing praises to our God!
Through tears and a very thankful heart I have watched the journey of the Long family unfold. Last year they saw a precious little girl here on my blog and they knew with all their heart that she was their daughter. They have walked one of the most challenging adoption journeys I have ever known. Through every trial the enemy threw at them, they never gave up.
The One whom we call Faithful and True kept His promises.
“Daphne” is no longer an orphan.
She is now Eden.
Chosen and dearly loved. Adopted mere days before her fourteenth birthday (when she would have aged out and would never have known the joy, the blessing, and the love of a family).
My God in heaven…
…never too early. Never too late. Always right on time!
I know that so many of you will join me in rejoicing that this precious little girl now has every opportunity to blossom and grow and become all who God has created her to be. God is writing such a beautiful story for her life. I can hardly wait to see how she does in her family.
You can follow the Long’s unfolding story HERE. Thank you, Long family, for teaching me what it means to have ridiculous faith in the fire.
And then, do you all remember THIS DARLING LITTLE LOVIE?
So many of you stood in faith with us…trusting, believing, and storming heaven on her behalf. We all saw her adorable video and we just knew that there was something so very special about this one.
Today she is CHOSEN! Loved. A blessing beyond description for her new family.
No longer labeled “orphan”, God has moved heaven and earth and she has a new name.
It is with a heart overflowing with gratitude that I can also share with you all that two very special and amazing young men will also know the love of families very soon. Two boys who have begged for someone to come for them will know what it means to be loved and treasured unconditionally…
…and they will know the faithfulness of their God in heaven to hear the cry of their hearts.
Holden is coming home.
And so is Slavik.
Please continue to pray for the work of Village of Hope in Guatemala. God is doing an incredible thing through His servants there.
From feeding the local people…
To bringing in teams to assist wherever there is great need.
THIS is the love of God coming on the earth.
Heaven coming down.
To sow precious and lasting seed into the work at Village of Hope you can GO HERE FOR INFORMATION!
And finally, I know you will all remember sweet little Joshua–the darling little guy who so many of us prayed for as he fought for his life a couple of months ago. Joshua is still in the hospital but will be GOING HOME very soon! The Father heard every prayer and every cry for this little boy. Please continue to pray for his family as they learn how to care for their boy (who is now tube fed and on a respirator). Heal him COMPLETELY, Lord Jesus! We believe!
GREAT THINGS HE HAS DONE!
“Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.” ~~ Psalm 105:2
He is indeed a FAITHFUL GOD!