Posts Tagged ‘adoption’

safety

A few weeks ago, my wife sent me a picture our daughter had drawn.   A stick figure that seems wrapped in a straight jacket, that my wife (because she rocks, naturally) asked our daughter to tell her more about.daddycross

Let me pause for a moment to remind the reader: We’ve had our daughter home from the DR Congo for a bit over a year now.  She’s learned a lot, and grown in so many ways.  One of the sources of her growth has been involvement in church activities and lessons.  A focus of our children’s’ ministry here at Moundford Free Methodist Church last year was to teach the kids about faithful followers of Jesus.  People who suffered for the cause of spreading the good news of the Love of Jesus – even when there were sometimes large prices to pay.

So when our daughter explained the picture to mommy, she shared “It’s daddy, and the mean people tied him up.”  My wife asked why, and she said “Because he was telling people about Jesus.”

It may have just been a silly moment of imagination.   But it may have actually been something in the back of her mind/heart for months now – wondering if and when daddy might actually be taken away or hurt because of how he spends his time telling others about the Love of Jesus.  We’ve assured her, thankfully, daddy doesn’t have to worry about this.  My job is safe (although maybe it should seem more threatening to the powers that be at times?) to do.

It made me incredibly thankful, when I allowed it to settle. Hanging from my door lately is a leather cross made by Coptic Christians in Egypt, given to me by a friend back in college.  It reminds me each day as I walk into my office – how thankful I can be to have a place where my life and work is not threatened each day simply because of Jesus.  It causes me to pause and pray for those for whom “safety” means something so far away and unknown.

I’m thankful my daughter (now) doesn’t have to worry about daddy being hurt or killed by “the mean people” who don’t know about the Love of God.  But there are children globally who aren’t free from that worry.  May we lift up our brothers and sisters in prayer even now, and live lives that strive to not take for granted the freedom we have to proclaim the love & peace of Jesus in the unique ways we’re given…

“here is your son.”

The Connected Child(ren of God)

Years ago, when we began the journey of adoption, it was surprising to read in “The Connected Child” that we would want our daughter to cry.  Reading the explanation, however, seemed to make perfect sense.  For a child who has never known the safe environment of a loving home and parents who cared for her needs, she has to learn the connected-child-cover-web-198x300instinct to cry out.  Previously, crying gained her nothing, or quite possibly the opposite of affection, and so she may have “unlearned” the behavior.  As our child became connected to us, it would become evident through moments like crying out – knowing she could trust a proper and loving response.

Fast forward several years.  We’ve finally brought home a daughter who is about 5 years old, and not only has she “unlearned” many habits of children who grow up in healthy environments – she’s also acquired many habits of children who grow up in unhealthy environments.  She is loved, for the first time as never before, and brought in to being part of a family. At first, she didn’t understand much of anything.  What did “Father” mean?  What did “Mother” mean?  There are certain things, and certain words, that if you were to examine them in the routine of many normal homes it would be confusing.   But in our context, where we’re attempting to purposefully build the connections most children would naturally develop from birth, they make sense.

Now take a step back.  Think about the Old Testament and the actions or words spoken between God and His people.  A common question among people who don’t want to believe in God, or even those who do but are honest with their doubts – “Why would God command ______?  Why would God do ________?”

I can’t pretend to understand the mind or heart of God completely, but I do understand the heart of a Father who wants to connect with the heart of their child. A child who has never known a Father like this before.  A child who has become so separated from the concept of “family” or “parent”, that it is a completely foreign concept.

So we see God calling out His people from among all others.  We see God rescue His people, only to force them into depending on Him through the wilderness for 40 years. We hear words from God about the wrath He’s capable of, even though ultimately He reveals His heart to be powerfully Loving and full of Grace for humanity. (lol, I realize that sounds bad here.  No worries, we’re not threatening wrath or taking our daughters on 40 year wilderness journeys.)

It’s not the kind of relationship we’d have if we were born aware of Him.  But it’s an adoption that impacts us to the very core of our being, for eternity.  Romans 8:15 reminds us, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.”

One of the most natural ways to build that connection and bond? Simply to hold our daughter, and to allow her to feel our love. To remind her that we are here, and she is here, and she is ours no matter what happens.  To help her feel safe, and loved, and comforted.  To provide for her needs, and help her to see how depending on us to meet those needs is a trustworthy habit to develop.

In this moment – maybe it’s a good reminder for you and I – if this is what I am aware of, can’t we trust that God knows even better how to move His children into a fully connected relationship with Him?  We can trust in these moments, if we allow ourselves to be held by Him, to listen to His words, and to depend on Him to provide – these are habits worth developing in our own lives.

Even as I continue to pray my daughter would know my love deep in her heart, and not just in behavior – I also pray that my heart would deeply come to know the Love of my Father, not just in my behavior.  I pray that God would use this understanding of His Love – to invite even more children into fuller connection with Him…

Worth the Wait

Finally. Home.

In February, 2016, the DRC released the first of what was to be several small lists of families being given permission to bring their children home.  We were so thankful to be on that first list, although it seemed our case was still not moving forward well.  So, we decided to travel to Kinshasa, and do everything we could in person.  We ended up staying a bit longer than anticipated, and missed Easter at home, but in the end – it was so worth it.  Two and a half weeks after arriving, we came home to unite our family – finally and wholly together.

Thank you, Jesus.

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Our prayers continue for the many, many families still waiting to bring their children home from the DRC.  Some progress has been made, but it continues that children who already have families and homes are not being allowed to travel to join them.  We pray that VERY SOON, all of these children will be forever united with their families.

We also pray for the DRC, and for all that God is up to in their midst.  Political transitions, empowering the people, and inspiring new creation paths for the future Congolese – God is doing a new thing…

Hello Again.

Ps. Posting this early here, so you don’t get bored of my writing and miss it.  My wife got me an incredible new newyearsmicrophone (Blue – Snowball) for Christmas, and I couldn’t wait to try it.  So I whipped up a quick spoken word yesterday and put it online so others could hear it.  Check it out if you’re brave, and share it with others if you like it!

I suppose it’s about time for an update.  We continue to wait, and pray desperately for a miracle to help bring our daughter home from the DRC. No incredibly miraculous updates there, other than the blessing of knowing she has just celebrated Christmas in a home with a family for the first time in her life.  The pictures of her beautiful smile, and stories of her visiting sick children in the hospital to help them smile warm this fathers heart.

It’s also worth noting, I’ve completed my first year of Seminary!!! Whoo hooo!!  I’m 1/3 of the way toward my MDIV degree at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University.  What is an MDIV? (I get asked this often.)  My response is usually, “I want to be a better pastor.  To improve how I serve God, my family, my community, and my church.  The classes for this MDIV are basically examining the various facets involved in pursuit of such a goal.   So far I’ve also realized I’m not a horrible student anymore.  Somewhere along the way, my nerd genes were activated, and like a mutant whose powers have only just begun to show – I’m more than a little excited.  Not because it helps me get A’s, (though those are each worth free tokens at Chuck E. Cheese), but because it’s legitimately improving the wealth of wisdom, understanding, and academia I draw from in the moment to moment serving who I serve where I serve.  I’m loving it.

Looking forward to the year ahead.  Throughout my spiritual formation course lately, I’m reminded of my extroversion, and desire to craft words together in a way that connects with others.  So be watching out for plenty more posts, and spoken words in the months to come.  Thanks for reading!

What is something you’re looking forward to/hoping for 2016?

#DRCStuck

I realize I’ve not written much in the past few months.  I started my masters’ degree this past January, and with the adoption journey being a roller coaster of emotions – it’s hard to know what to say during the few moments I have to say it.   I’m certainly still writing, but most of it is in the form of papers at the moment.

One of my recent assignments for a “Spiritual Formation” class was to illustrate a prayer request. So I made a video about our adoption journey.  It ended up being tougher for me to even watch than I thought, because it’s a bit emotional.  But I’m proud of how it came out.  It’s been on YouTube less than 2 days, and already has almost 1,000 views – so I figured I should probably share it with my mom and the few other readers that are still here. 🙂

Thanks so much for your continued prayers and encouragement…

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