Friday, May 28, 2010

No matter where they are

Normally I don't do this... but this one struck a cord with me. Something inside of me felt like I had to respond. Please understand I do not mean this reader any disrespect-we are all entitled to our own thoughts, feelings and opinions.

But, since this is my blog- I figure I have a right to share my own opinion. ;0)

I received the following comment after my post on "Will It Ever Be Enough" and since it wasn't the first time (nor I am sure the last) that I heard these exact sentiments- I felt a post a brewin.

"The thing is...its very hard for people to take Christians seriously when we pass over the over 100,000 legal orphans in our own country to go save an orphan overseas. God would have us take care of our own - and we are not. The foster care system is full to bursting with children that have been turned into 100% legal orphans with no chance of a legal fight over rights. Where is the line of Christians to adopt them? It's LOW cost even.


Our own children aren't good enough some how. They aren't as worthy as a child in another country. Yet, its supposed to be about giving a child a home and a family of their own - which our foster children (that are legal orphans) DO NOT HAVE.

Obviously I've been asking myself these hard questions - and they don't shed a good light on those of us that adopt from overseas."

First of all, I wrote this post awhile back on adopting internationally verse adopting from the foster system here. As a mother of five adopted children- TWO from the foster system and three internationally I feel that I have a right of passage to respond to this question. ;0)

I want to reiterate that to us- adopting from the foster system and adopting internationally are equally as amazing- simply because we were blessed by both experiences- our children came home. While of course there are strengths and weaknesses to both adoption processes- the end results are absolutely priceless.

However, what struck a cord with me was the part about 'our own' children in our own backyard.

I don't know how the bible speaks to you- but my God says to "love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:31) and I am pretty positive He was not just talking about the person physically next door.

I am pretty sure He was talking about every person- every tribe- every tongue- every nation.

I am pretty sure He desires the orphan in Dallas, Texas to not remain an orphan as much as He desires the orphan in Africa, Afghanistan, Belize, China, India, Liberia, Hong Kong, India, Korea, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Guatemala, Moldova, Honduras, Costa Rica or the Marshall Islands to have a family of their own.

I am pretty sure they ALL matter to Him equally.

John 14:18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.

So while yes I agree that people should be answering the call to foster or adopt from the US foster system (PLEASE, PLEASE DO!!!) I also believe that if God has called you to Russia, China, Guatemala, Serbia, Vietnam, Africa, that you SHOULD OBEY.

The beauty of God's plan is that He is sending His people EVERYWHERE to answer His call. If ALL of us were to adopt from China- then what about the orphans in Guatemala or Columbia or Haiti?

And I love how God places certain places and certain children on certain peoples hearts. (Not to mention some programs are just a better fit for certain individuals- due to family size, age, income, etc.)

I have met families who are passionate about adopting children with Downs Syndrome.

I have met families who are passionate about adopting children who are HIV+.

I have met families who are called to teen boys from the US foster system.

I have met families who are called to children with club feet from China.

And the things is IT IS ALL EQUALLY AMAZING and EQUALLY WONDERFUL because that family answers the call and goes where God has called them.

I personally find it incredible that the God of the universe hand chose each and every one of our children.

I love that He orchestrated the most beautiful consummation- and I have never doubted for a single second that each child He has allowed us the privilege of parenting was meant to be ours- because it was His plan.

I have never doubted for a single second that God, in his infinite wisdom, knew which children needed us and which children we needed to become who we are.

Two times He sent us to Guatemala and provided for our every needs. Two times He led us to adopt through the US foster system and provided for every need. And one time He sent us to Ethiopia and provided for every need. Each time we stepped out in faith and trusted Him to bring the child He chose into our family- and it was perfect.

So if God is calling you to adopt from China- GO!!!

If God is calling you to adopt from the US foster system GO!!!

No matter where the child is located-Adoption is a beautiful, hard, emotional rollercoaster- that in the end is worth it all.

Now, go get your child- no matter where they may be. ;0)
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Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'm all for sharing...

But some things are just better kept for yourself. ;0)

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Will it ever be enough?

While in Ethiopia last March I remember walking through orphanage after orphanage looking into the eyes of so many precious little ones. Little ones who were begging to be held, begging to be loved, begging for some sign that they mattered.

Since then, I have felt like I have this heavy weight on my shoulders, this constant question of what now? While I am encouraged when I click around adoption blog land and see family after family saying YES to adoption... I still cannot shake the feeling of will it ever be enough?

147 million orphans takes 147 million people saying YES to adoption... proving to child after child that yes- their precious lives DO matter.

Some days I feel literally exhausted trying to prove, or rather convince people that adoption really is important. While yes, of course I realize it is not the answer to all problems- it does make a difference in the life of at least one child. And that one child truly does matter to God.

Yet other days the orphan crisis is so overwhelming I don't even know why I bother trying. I feel like I want to run away and hide- forget I know that problem even exists. Only the endless faces of those children continue to haunt me no matter where I go.

And other times I just have to laugh. Laugh at the ridiculous amount of time people waste arguing over if everyone is called to adopt or not.

Which, by the way, is exactly what Satan wants.

Satan wants for us to waste precious time arguing over who should and who shouldn't be doing what.

He wants us wasting time and energy trying to prove our 'calling' or our 'cause' is more noble than the rest.

He wants us to waste time trying to come up with any excuse we can to convince ourselves that we are 'in the right'.

Because, all that wasted time is time we spent doing nothing... which means more time an orphan was left vulnerable and alone.

I will never claim to have all the answers. I have no idea how God is personally talking to each and every person. All I can say is- you read the bible, you talk to God and see what He has to say to you. Nobody needs to prove or make their point to anyone else. What God asks you to do is between you and Him period. I think that part of what God desires is for us to say yes and obeying Him- even when everyone else is around you is doing something different. He longs to know you are focusing solely on His directions- and not the rest of the worlds.

"Obey my laws and do what I command. I am the Lord your God". Lev. 18:4

But one thing I do know is that if Christians were living the kind of radical life that God has called them all to live- if Christians were stepping up to the plate saying YES LORD- instead of arguing over who should answer 'the call' -then there would be no more orphans, no more child sex trafficking, no more people starving and no more people dying without hope.

You know, I don't know what it's going to take to make people stop and care. I don't know what it's going to take to make 147 million people wake up and see the need. I don't know what it's going to take to make them care about the orphan as much as they care about themselves.
I don't know what it's going to take- but God does.

So while I often wonder if my adopting five children even made a dent in the orphan population, I cling to the belief that the Lord can take even a small effort and make it into something bigger.

I am reminded when I look into the eyes of my children that God will use their lives to bring Him glory. Through the adoption of a child- the ripple effect goes into play. Not only will that child's life change- but their children's and their children's children- and the lives that come into contact with theirs. God's goodness never stops amazing me.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:11-13

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What did you do with today?

Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 1 Timothy 4:12

Each one of us is given the same 24 hours in a day to bring glory to God in the life He has given us.

Sometimes we waste that time hiding behind who we are and the circumstances we have been handed. Other times we are bold enough to be the voice and to let God use us in a remarkable way.

Check out this amazing little girls blog. She is 8 years old and HIV+.

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Monday, May 24, 2010

Just how important is adoption?

Yesterday we had the privilege of attending Princess Chrissie Patterson's homecoming celebration. As I looked around the room and I saw the many faces of people's live Chrissie had touched. I heard her parents and siblings say many times that they would do it all over and over again- regardless. And, once again I was reminded of the importance of adoption.

God doesn't always promise us a happy ending, but he promises us the best. And Chrissie, regardless of her short time on earth, was the best.

So many times we limit God with our idea's of how things should be and how things should turn out. Chrissie's life was exactly as it was supposed to be. As humans we may never fully understand God's ways-but we can rest in knowing they are perfect every.single.time.

That's why it's so important that we put our worries and our fears aside- shed that the protective coating we wear around our hearts- and do something with the gift of our lives.

Adoption allowed Chrissie to truly live her days on this earth. Adoption was the difference of Chrissie dying alone in an orphanage or having the chance to change the world.

And that is exactly what she did.

Adoption is huge- if you don't believe me- just ask God how important it is to Him.

Watch this video below and then I dare you to get on your knees before the Lord and just ask Him so.

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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Building a bond

One question I am frequently asked is how our 'bigger kids' feel about us adopting.

I can honestly tell you that they absolutely adore their little brothers and sisters and LOVE spending time with them.

The only concern I can remember any of them ever having was when our oldest son, Travis, (who is in college but home for the summer right now) questioned how it would be to have a sibling 19 years younger than him. He was afraid that he really wouldn't have the chance to get to know Havyn like he does his other siblings.

I loved that he cared enough and wanted to be able to be a part of her life. As he and I talked, I agreed-their relationship will probably not be the 'normal' sibling relationship- but that it can be special in it's own way. I have found in my life that doing things a little bit differently than everyone else isn't such a bad thing anyway. ;0)

So, while they may not be like 'typical' siblings and fight over toys~ they have found their own way to bond...

and it's beautiful.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Boss Your Heart

Heaven gained an angel of the greatest kind today. As many of you know- Chrissie Patterson went to dance with Jesus. I can only imagine that sweet smile on her face when she realizes how pleased Jesus is with her perfect heart.

The Lord gave us the privilege of meeting the Patterson family through a series of events- all of them surrounding this families incredible heart. I still to this day find it interesting how the word 'heart' has woven itself into the description of this family over and over without my even realizing it. You can read a post I wrote about Chrissie's big sister Mattie heart here.

A sweet blog reader decided instead of just following the Patterson's blog she wanted to do something. (thank you Rachael). Chrissie's precious mama had sat beside Chrissie's hospital bed one day and whispered into Chrissie's ear to 'boss her heart'. Chrissie did and we witnessed a miracle. So Rachael created a beautiful necklace that says "Boss your heart" (see below).

Because what we don't often realize is that each day we are given the chance to witness a miracle and 'boss our own hearts'.

The problem is... is that Satan is very sly and often when we are given the opportunity to 'boss our hearts' we chose instead to feel entitled to our feelings of:
self pity
boss us instead.

We remain stagnant, paralyzed- because we allow these feelings to consume us- and we become useless to God.

Instead of bossing our hearts and practicing grace and love to the person who cut us off in a line of traffic, we instead allow anger in our hearts and cuss them out instead.

Instead of bossing our hearts to practice grace and love to our spouse who once again forgot to take out the trash, we allow our hearts to grow bitter.

Instead of bossing our hearts to practice grace and love to a friend who spoke behind our backs, we allow our hearts to hold onto a grudge of unforgiveness for years.

Instead of bossing our hearts to open our home to a child with special needs, we instead let fear consume our hearts and we close the door to the possibility of loving someone less than perfect.

Instead of bossing our hearts- we waste our time doing things that are easy, things that are safe, things that are comfortable, things that are all about 'us'- all the time trying to justify to ourselves and to the world that they truly matter- when down deep we know they do not.

Today, I am making the decision in Chrissie's' memory to boss my heart every single minute of every single day. I am asking God to do a mighty work in my life. I am asking the Lord to help me be the boss of my heart. I am allowing Him to clean out the ugliness and renew it with a heart of love. I am asking Him to get rid of any traces of unforgiveness, bitterness, hatred, self pity, pride, prejudice and fear.

The Patterson family adopted Chrisse knowing there was a risk. Knowing that Chrissie's precious heart was sick, but saying yes to God simply because He asked.

Was there pain involved in that risk? Absolutely- more than you and I will probably ever know.

But in that pain was also more beauty than most of us will ever experience in a lifetime

And I know, without a shadow of a doubt that if you ask the Patterson's if it was worth it- hands down they would say YES.

For in true Jesus style, he used a child with a 'defective' heart- and allowed her to be more 'effective' than many of us who have healthy ones.

So my challenge for you today is to choose to become the boss of your heart.

Boss your heart and love the unlovable.

Boss your heart and forgive the unforgivable.

Boss and heart and say yes to Jesus no matter what the cost.

Boss your heart into reacting in LOVE every single time.

Take that leap of faith and be willing to hurt with those who are hurting.

Give until it hurts.

Love until your heart feels like it is going to be ripped out.

Make your days count- just like Chrissie did.

Patterson family, thank you for your amazing example of what I hope one day to be. Thank you for saying yes- and thank you for having the faith to do it. Thank you for sharing your story and your heart. Thank you for allowing us the privilege of witnessing your miracle. Thank you for changing me, challenging me and teaching me what truly counts in this life. Thank you for sharing your beautiful Serbian Sensation with the world- her life changed ours.
We love you more than words can say.

If you would like to purchase your own "Boss your heart" necklace you can visit here. $30 of all proceed go to help the Patterson Family offset medical costs.

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Sunday, May 16, 2010

Some of my best childhood memories are from family vacations. They weren't anything fancy or expensive or grand- just time spent together as a family. In a world where we are consumed with the Internet, video games, TV and cell phones- it is nice to get away from it all and just enjoy each other.

I think sometimes as parents we feel that we have to 'give' our children everything- to make them happy. But I truly believe that the things that our children will remember the most do not come with high price tags- but are actually quite cheap- our time. I don't think I will ever get tired of just looking into my children's eyes, listening to their laughter and discovering more about who they are.

This past weekend Todd and I, and the 7 youngest were able to sneak away from the busyness of life and just spend some time talking, laughing and exploring. We stayed in a little cabin made available through The Children's Hospital in Dallas. I didn't think it was possible, but I think I fell even more in love with my children. They truly take my breath away~ and I am so very, very blessed. So in a world full of schedules, appointments, lessons and media entertainment-take every opportunity to grab hold of your kids and enjoy the miracle they truly are.
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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Happy 3rd Birthday Carson!!

A few weeks ago, Mr. Perfect in every way Carson, turned 3 years old. We had a fun day of celebrating this amazing little boy with his precious foster family. I cannot even begin to tell you what a complete joy Carson is. He and I are pretty much attached at the hip- and seriously, I don't know how I survived a day without him in our lives. God is so good. It was obvious that Carson loved the family tradition of waking up to birthday balloons all over his room. He giggled and giggled and jumped up and down- throwing balloons everywhere singing "Happy Birthday to me!" Trust me, this boy knows how to enjoy life! I simply cannot wait until I can show you his beautiful face and that smile that lights up our world. SOON!!!! (we are working it out so that we can have his adoption day and readopt Havyn on the same day).

Thank you God for the precious gift of Carson in our lives. As we celebrated his birth I cannot help but to think of all he has gone through in his short time on this earth. Things Lord that are unspeakable and yet Lord through it all you held him through it. You had a plan Lord, and I thank you and praise you that plan included us. We do not take a single second of that for granted. And thank you Lord for Carson's precious foster family who loves him as much as we do. Thank you God for their amazing family who pours all they have, heart and soul, into loving and healing these precious children you care so much about. Thank you Lord for every foster family who give and gives and gives some more- faces the unknowns, with no guarantees- yet does it out of love for a child. I pray your hand of protection over them all. Give them the strength to continue and peace in knowing they are truly doing what you call us all to do. I love you Lord. Amen.
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Getting somewhere...

Today we took Miss Havyn in for her swallow study. It is so nice to finally be getting some real answers. She was indeed aspirating when she was swallowing her bottle. I cannot imagine how painful that must have been. She has gained almost 3.5 lbs since coming home 2 months ago- and yet she is still a teeny tiny little thing. At 8 mo. old now she is still wearing 0-3 month clothing. We fondly call her 'Little Bit' at home. My awesome friend, Michelle, (who endured 2 days of doctors appointments with me and a tired and hungry infant) and I were laughing because EVERYONE we walk by stops and oogles over Havyn. They just go on and on about how beautiful she is. It was quite humorous because we couldn't take 3 steps without someone commenting on how adorable she is. :0) And Havyn, despite 2 not so fun days of testing, smiled at them all.

We had the most amazing OT today at the hosptial. She was super sweet and such a blessing. It was actually really cool to be able to see what was going on inside of Havyn while she ate and finally have a plan to make things better for her.

I was just sitting here thinking about how truly amazing God is and counting the so many blessings HE has given us. I am so thankful for our agency- Celebrate Children International who got Havyn home so quickly-allowing us to start focusing and fixing these issues. I am so thankful for my amazing husband who loves us beyond words and provides for our every need. I am so thankful for my kids who never complain about getting less time when mom has some extra stuff to take care of. I am so thankful for our church who cares so much about my family and for friends who are willing to drop everything and be there when needed. I am thankful for my parents who drove here from Illinois to love on my children and support us no matter what. I am so thankful for YOU my sweet blog readers who take the time to leave precious comments, share your experiences, and most importantly offer up your prayers. None of us can argue that there are times when this life is just not easy. But I am so thankful to serve a God who meets our every need- and always gives us more than we could ever ask for.

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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Still here...

Just in case anyone is still out there reading, we are still here. :0)

Things have just been super busy and I really haven't had a chance to sit down and collect my thoughts enough to compose a post. Plus I have just cannot seem to shake the blues I have had lately. I am still feeling so down because I have so many friends going through some tough stuff right now. I really don't like feeling helpless. I like to have an answer- be able to offer up some real help. But some of the things these precious friends are facing are the BIG kind of trails. The Giants. And, as I hurt along side of them I know that right now there just doesn't seem to be an obvious answer.

So all I can do is trust in God's perfect timing, and trust that He will provide all of the answers. I know He will. But waiting is so hard.

We have also been facing our own sort of trial, but today we were finally able to get a few answers. Ever since bringing Havyn home my mommy radar has been going off. Something just didn't seem quite right. Don't get me wrong, Havyn is precious and perfect in EVERY way and I wouldn't change a single thing about her. But at the same time, as her parent my job is to take care of her the very best we can- and figure out her needs. We expected her to have delays. Many children who have lived in an orphanage come home with them. We also had to consider that she was born 2 months premature so we expected her to have even more catching up to do. All those things taken into consideration, she was still having some issues and we were not sure exactly what was going on.

Havyn has pretty bad reflux. For those of you who have had children with reflux you know what I am talking about. Not fun. But along with the pain and constant spitting up (seriously, I feel somewhat of a walking burp rag) she struggles with her sucking on the bottle.

That was our first clue there might be more going on.

Then she also began to do some kind of odd jerky movements- sometimes sort of like tremors and she would stiffen up. She was evaluated by ECI (Early Childhood Intervention) and today we had a EEG done to see if there was any seizure activity going on. Praise God that was not the case. ECI and the neurologist both saw some possible signs of mild Cerebral Palsey. We cannot know for sure of course without an MRI, which we will have done in a few months on her first birthday. We could have done one now, but even if we knew now we wouldn't do anything any differently than love every second of her and work with her to catch up to her full potential.

She truly is amazing and we are so blessed to have her in our lives.

More than blessed.

Tomorrow we head to the Children's Hospital to have a swallow study done. Hopefully we can get some more answers there and help our beautiful princess enjoy her feedings a whole lot more.
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