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Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Art of Losing Myself...

I'm selfish. 

I struggle with this daily. It is so tempting to put myself first, put my kids first, put my family first.  Ignore what's going on elsewhere and imagine that my little family in our happy little house is the whole world. That way, I am free to get annoyed about small things like dishes left on the kitchen table and laundry that never gets put away, as if that's the worst life ever hands out.

But Christ calls us to live differently: to place others above ourselves; to be aware of our brothers and sisters who live next door and those who live across the world.  We need to be connected to others in order to truly know their needs. Rob and I were talking recently about how we feel we are not doing enough. The more we know about the brokenness in this world the greater the urge to DO something.  We've been to Africa. It wasn't enough. We give regularly to certain causes. It isn't enough. We are adopting an orphan from Ethiopia. It isn't enough.

None of that will ever be enough. The brokenness out there is bigger than I am. I will always struggle with the feeling that I'm not doing enough. Thank goodness God didn't choose me to be the world's savior, 'cause boy am I failing at that one!  I was reminded at church this morning of two things:

1. I need to lose myself more
2. God is bigger than everything I worry about.

I realized that lately I've been ignoring some of the reasons we are adopting. I catch myself saying we're adopting because "we want another child and there is a child who needs a family" as if that child is just happily playing on a playground, waiting for some parents to happen along.  While that is certainly part of our motivation, we are adopting for other reasons as well.  For one, God tells us to care for orphans.  That means God knew there would be orphans and he made a plan for them to be cared for... it's us.  I have seen the state of things in Africa. I have not yet been to Ethiopia, but I've been to Swaziland and I saw the poverty, the hurting, the brokenness.  I want desperately to keep at least one child from suffering in that way. God knew there would be poverty and suffering - He tells us what to do about that in the Bible, too. Again, his plan includes us.

I have two options. I can stay selfish. I can put on my tunnel-vision goggles and only see what's happening in my own life.  Or I can lose myself. I can choose to open my eyes and see those who are suffering. And I can do something about it.  God has a plan for us to reach out and live in true community with others. I won't be doing any saving... it's all Him. I don't want to miss out on any part of what He's doing because I've stuck my head in the sand of my own life.

It may not lead to the "American dream", but I praise God every day for the opportunity to live selflessly.  I have a long way to go, but God has changed my heart. I want to live every day for others. That desire could only come from the Creator who designed us in such a way that we need to live in community, putting each other above ourselves (because, trust me, it is not part of my nature!)  When I am truly putting others first, I find such joy - much more so than when I achieve my own self-made goals.

We're doing something new this Christmas. I'm an avid Christmas card fan. I love to get them, love to send them out. We have a Christmas card list over 100 people long.  This year, I'm still designing a card but we won't be mailing it. I'll be emailing it out (maybe posting it on the blog) and making a donation instead.  It is one way I'm going to keep the focus away from me and outward towards others.  This is hard for me. I love Christmas cards. In fact, I still have the ones we received last year so I can compare them to ones we get this year & see who has grown, what has changed, etc. 

I'm such a nerd.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Not a project...

I like projects. In fact, I like projects so much that I often take on new ones before my old ones are finished. I just love having something that I'm working on, whether it's a sewing project like the birthday banner on my sewing table right now for our good buddy in the neighborhood, or doing the Both Hands fundraiser. I just love being involved in stuff. To a fault, probably (just ask my sister-in-law about the window valance she asked me to make LAST YEAR that I'm finally bringing to her next week!).  I tend to take on more than I can realistically do (hence the not sleeping and the many cups of coffee that define my days!).

But you know what? Adopting a child is not a project. This is not just another "thing" I'm involved in. This is not a child I plan to "save" or "fix."  While caring for orphans is certainly part of ministry, this is not a "ministry" for us.  I don't ever want my child to feel as if he were a cause that I was championing at this particular stage of my life.  People have talked with us about our adoption as if it is charity work or as if we are taking on some kind of difficult-yet-noble task.  I promise you, that's not it. 

There are 147 million children out there who don't have mommies or daddies to love on them. One hundred and forty seven million kiddos. Minus one, once we bring our little one home.  It's a tiny dent, but a dent nonetheless. We want another kid. It just makes sense to us to adopt.

It's easy to think of adoption like a project. We have to fill out a hundred and one pieces of paper, many of them government forms that have to be notarized in a very specific way.  We had to provide health certificates, bank statements, do interviews with social workers, and complete trainings.  The whole process is very project-like.  But if I expect this to be a project with a finished product at the end, I will be sorely disappointed. 

In the end, it's a child, not a project. And it's a son who will join our family in the same way my first two did: into the arms of two parents who love him very much and know we'll figure out the rest along the way!

Want to know the latest update: we're now #14 on the unofficial wait list, still #5 for a boy :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Spoiled...

It's 11:30 at night and I have to leave for work at 6:15 tomorrow morning so this is going to be short & sweet. I have LOTS that I want to blog about and I promise I will actually write something thoughtful this week.

But for now... I just have to tell y'all that I am spoiled rotten. I have no idea how in the world I wound up with such a wonderful family, such amazing friends, and such a great church family.  God is so good!

Here are the highlights of my day yesterday:

1. It was my birthday. I never tell anyone when my birthday is - I hate attention. But I want to brag on my husband so I'm not only going to admit I had a birthday, I'm even willing to tell y'all how old I am! (remind me to tell y'all someday about how my daughter ratted me out at the fundraiser 10 minutes before we were going to leave!!)
Look what I woke up to:
My sweet husband BAKED me a birthday cake and decorated it himself (he even got out my fancy cake decorating tools!)

2. Our fundraiser - It was like having our own Chick-Fil-A party! My dad was in town so he got to be there and we had friends in & out all night long! I won't know the total of how much we raised, but I know we came home with a quite a bit of cash (which leads me to #3)

3. I'm not going to say her name but one of my friends humbled me beyond belief yesterday. She had wanted to be part of our Both Hands project but has been super crazy at work. I didn't even think twice about it - just figured she'd been busy and it wasn't a big deal. She came to our Chick Fil A fundraiser with money she had raised from her family and friends and then she & her husband MATCHED the amount they raised. Amazing.  God is showing me so much about how to be selfless - I'm surrounded by some great teachers.

I went to bed feeling spoiled (not in a bad way, I mean just really really loved!) I had prayed a few months ago that I would stop focusing on the money we "needed" to raise. If adopting our next child completely wipes out our bank account, then so be it. We are not on this earth to hoard our money.  But I have been completely overwhelmed at how many people have a heart for orphans and want to be part of bringing one home to a forever family.

Latest update? Still #5 for a boy but we are #15 overall on that unofficial wait list! It's starting to feel close!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Chick-Fil-A

We've told folks about this on facebook but in case any of y'all who read this blog are local, I wanted to invite you to our Chick-Fil-A fundraiser tomorrow night!!!

On Thursday, Nov 11th from 5-8, the Chick-Fil-A at Guilford College will donate 15% of your purchase to our adoption! If you come, please make sure to give them your receipt & tell them that you'd like it to go for the adoption fundraiser. It's no extra cost to you- you pay only for your meal - they do the donation!

Isn't that cool? I just love Chick-Fil-A. They're the best.  And we are so excited that they're willing to help us out.

So in case you were looking for an excuse to eat Chick-Fil-A this week... here you go!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orphan Sunday

I'm always a little late to the game in blogger-world but I learned earlier this week that today would be Orphan Sunday. Our adoption agency suggested that folks try to get something printed on their church bulletin for the week. I called Rob immediately and learned our bulletin had already been printed for the week but that maybe something else could be done and then I just kind of let it go.

The cause of orphans has become so important to our family in the past few years. I first worked with orphans in the Republic of Georgia when I was in college. And then Rob went to Swaziland in 2008 where so many of the children have lost their parents to HIV/AIDS and our commitment solidified. Over the next year, God just kept orphans on our heart and in December 2009 we started the adoption process. And I guarantee you, we aren't done caring about orphans once we get our son home. We'll continue our commitment to Swaziland and see what God has for us in other areas too. I have long-term plans to be a foster parent one day. And y'all all know I'm still advocating for a domestic adoption after our international one (Rob's not budging... imagine that!) ha ha

I read a blog today about someone who, last year on Orphan Sunday, was waiting for their child from Ethiopia. Their church didn't mention Orphan Sunday last year.  I'm not sure how long their daughter has been home but she's home now. And in the year since Orphan Sunday 2009, many other families from their church have decided to get involved in the cause to help orphans - many by adopting. This year their church not only had it in their bulletin but they had speakers in each service talking about God's love for orphans and His call for us to do something about it. Afterward they had booths for domestic and international adoptions and foster care.

Can I tell you a secret? I'm mad at myself for not asking our church to at least acknowledge Orphan Sunday today.  And I dream that our church will not only recognize it next year, but be already doing something about it. It's not about getting words printed in a bulletin, it's about working to lessen that number of orphans in our community (global community and local). We are not the first family in our church to adopt by any means... I'm just praying that number continues to grow.

It's already happening in our community. As people have learned we're adopting, I've had other moms confide in me that they're considering it. I am praying that more families will consider adopting.  I know God does not call all families to adopt, however he does call all Christians to care for orphans.

I'm not going to ask you what you're doing to care for orphans today on Orphan Sunday. God doesn't tell us to care for them on one day of the year. What is God telling you to do for orphans in your life? Is he telling you to go on a mission trip? Is he telling you to work with kids here?

Or maybe he's tapping at your heart telling you he has a child for you; one just waiting to be able to say the words "Mommy" and "Daddy" to someone.  God started tapping on my heart a long time ago. Our child isn't even home yet and I'm already glad I listened.

Friday, November 5, 2010

SIX MONTHS

This past month has gone by so fast that I realized today that I've been telling people that we've been waiting "almost 6 months" and we actually hit the 6 month mark on Oct 30th! oops! :) Praise God for a fast month of waiting!

I promise I'll do my own update post later but for now - PLEASE go read this blog post. This woman speaks my heart:

http://itsalmostnaptime.blogspot.com/2010/02/i-dont-want-my-children-to-be-happy.html

And for those of you wanting the stats, here we go:
We are sitting at #17 on the unofficial wait list (#5 for a boy)
Average wait time is still about 8 months... that means about 2 months to go for us.

And yes, I am still praying the referral comes by Christmas! :)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

NOT about me...

Our Both Hands story was on the news tonight. It was very exciting to think that our story's been shared with lots of people. And the kids thought it was cool to see our family and friends on TV.

Here's my problem - the segment is called "Hero Central." Y'all have heard me struggle with this before. It took me years to overcome low self-esteem and I finally did it by recognizing who I really am: a beloved child of God.  The last thing I want to do now is to swing to the other side. I don't want to be prideful about what we've done. Because we didn't do it. God tells us in the Bible to help widows and orphans - so we have. That's it. I posted a link to it on my facebook page and now I'm afraid to check it. I'm scared I'll see nice comments about how great we are.  We are NOT great. God is. I'm a chronic over-analyzer, and now I will go to bed fearing that people will think that I posted the link to the story so that I could spread the word about how great we are. Ugh - I don't want to do that.

But thinking that way makes it all about me again (sheesh!).  I have been praying for this fundraiser almost as much as I've been praying for my son in Ethiopia. I pray that this entire adoption process would glorify Him.  And this is just one more part of it. If just one person saw the news tonight and thought "wow- a God who would take care of widows and orphans in that way must be pretty cool" then I'm happy.

So if you watch this (or watched it), please read between the lines: this story is about Jesus. Leigh, the newscaster who did the story on us, is a Christian and if you notice she starts the whole story by quoting part of James 1:27.  That's what it's all about. God tells us to take care of orphans and widows.

And isn't it amazing what happens when we do what God tells us to do?

So... deep breath. Here it is:  http://www.digtriad.com/life/community/herocentral/story.aspx?storyid=150000&catid=256