Praise Your Way to a Brand New Marriage

“Ugh, my hair needs cutting, and I look fat,” I spoke to the mirror while trying to make sense of the haystack of hair floating around my head.

“Ah-hem.” My husband cleared his throat and gave me the look. You know the one that says stop what you’re doing – now. His hand on my back; he spun me around, “I think you are beautiful. I’d like you to list me five things about yourself that you like.”

Crickets chirping…

The Cafe is running one of my posts again. This one is a great reminder. Join me for a re-run at the Cafe today and find out how I used praise to help my marriage. Click HERE to read the rest.

Carol

A Dream Realized

I knew when my son asked his father to marry another woman there was a problem.

He had it all figured out. “Dad, could you please take a second wife? I know it’s okay because Jacob in the Bible had two wives, Rachel and Leah, and God knew all about it. But when you pick one this time, could you make sure she likes dogs?”

Want to know how I handled this situation? Join me today at the Internet Cafe to find out. Click HERE to read the rest of my devotion. 

 

Carol

Letter to a Tired Mother

Dear Mother,

God sees you. I needed to tell you that. Yes, I’m talking to you. Yes, you. God knows your hurts. He hears your quiet sobs in the night.

It stormed here last night. The rain fell, and my baby cried. I paced the floor between her bed and mine. The well-worn path needed nothing to illuminate the way. My heart led. That’s the way of things when your child is sick.

I wanted you to know there’ll be nights like this…

Are you a mom? Are you exhausted? This letter is for you.

Click HERE to read the letter at 5 Minutes for Faith.

Carol

Risky Business {guest post}

Are you eyes open yet? This week’s posts really leave me thinking about the orphans.

Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Psalm 82:3 NIV

Today I’d like to introduce you to another special lady who is in the process of adopting a sweet girl from India. Meet Michele Fort. She’s finding out adoption is risky business.

“Family freely assumes the risks…”

While reading and signing the 20-page contract sent from our adoption agency, I found myself zeroing in on one particular word in that phrase.
Risks.

The document stated that “international adoption is a complex process, often involving circumstances beyond the agency’s control…”

Risks.

Those things you spend your life trying to avoid because you know they could cause trouble or bring you unnecessary harm.

Risks.

Your lungs are at risk if you choose to smoke.

Overexposure to harmful UV rays increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

Not wearing a seat belt greatly increases the risk of being injured or killed in a car accident.

Investing all your money in the uncertain stock market could be a risk to your stable financial future.

If you use this particular medication, you are at risk for liver damage.

Danger:  Enter at your own risk.

 

risk – possibility of suffering harm or loss; potential peril; uncertain danger; presumed threat; chance of trouble

 

I admit my naivete.  I admit my lack of knowledge.  I admit I’ve thought adoption to be a lot of things.  But the word, “risk” had yet to cross my mind.  Until now.

I had to put the pen down.  I had to think, to really think over all of the possible risks the agency had just listed.  There were a lot.  A whole lot.  Including the whole darn thing falling apart all together.

Bottom line:  there are no guarantees.

Not one.  Not even after all our paperwork is completed and mailed off.  Not even after all our fundraising and payments are processed.  Not even after all our wanting and waiting.

Adoption is a risky business.

At the bottom of the last page were two lines marked with an “X”.

My line:
Prospective Mother’s signature
X_______________________

My husband’s line:
Prospective Father’s signature
X_______________________

And above both lines, were these words,

“We have been informed…and freely accept the risks.”

Do we?  Do we freely and fully accept the risks?

Both of us stopped.  We held hands and we prayed.  We sought guidance from the One who called us to this journey in the first place.  And in that holy moment, peace prevailed and we were reminded of these simple facts:

Driving a car is risky.
Buying a home is risky.
Starting a new job is risky.
Making new friends is risky.
Giving my heart to another is risky.
Saying “I do” is risky.
Carrying a baby for nine months is risky.
Being a parent is risky.
Stepping out in faith is risky.
Loving big is risky.

“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” ~Jim Elliot, missionary in Ecuador; lost his life by the Waodani tribe warriors

And yet even in the midst of all the possible risks, I rest in these constant certainties:

  • Jesus promised, “I am with you, always” (Matthew 28:20).
  • He said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
  • He will remain faithful, even when I am faithless. (2 Timothy 2:13).

“If anyone comes after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?”
~ Jesus

All of life is risky business. Period.

But if I never take the risk, how will I ever know the reward?

So I pick up my pen and I sign on the line.  Freely assuming and accepting the risks.  Knowing full-well that adoption is a risky business and we are entering at our own risk.

“If you’re not willing to give up everything, you’ve already lost.”
~ film, Act of Valor

Thanks Michele for sharing with us. Please take a moment to drop by Michele’s blog, Following the Forts, and see her adorable family. They are in the fund raising phase of their adoption. Did you know it costs around $30,000? Maybe you’ve read the posts this week and thought I care about the orphans but I can’t adopt a child. You can still be a part of blessing orphans by donating to a family who is adopting. Visit Michele’s blog to donate to her adoption to India or visit Give 1 Save 1 and help out a family there.

Carol

Am I A Hero? {guest post}

You are in for a real treat today. This is a guest post from my friend Missy. I started reading her when I first started blogging. We met several years back at a She Speaks conference, and she is just as funny and beautiful in person. What stood out most to me when we met was how genuine she was. I love it when people are real. Missy and her family are in the process of adopting a baby girl from Ethiopia. Please visit Missy’s blog It’s Almost Naptime to follow her adoption story and fall in love with the rest of her adorable family.

Now let’s hear from Missy:

I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve been boycotting all things orphan.

I only casually glance when facebook friends bring home their newly adopted children. Haven’t watched a gotcha video on YouTube in weeks, maybe months. My Africa reading list? Collecting dust.

This book, especially, I have boycotted. I stopped just a couple of chapters in. I knew it would be too painful to read the detailed descriptions of abandoned orphans in Ethiopia. I’d be in complete agony, wanting to go there now, to grab hold of just one of them now. Decided not to torture myself.

We thought we might have our daughter by now. Thought we would at least be close to having her sleep under our roof, in our arms. But our adoption has trickled to a crawl. Slow as molasses. Slower than Christmas. Insert any other annoying euphemism to describe how painfully long this process has taken and the disappointment and heartache that has ensued.

To cope, I’ve shut down emotionally. I can do that, if needed. Years of practice taught me that skill.

I’ve reminded myself that it is God’s timing several billion times. Decided to delight in the fact that I have serendipitous free time, for the first time in eight years, what with all four of my children in school. I’ve painted half the rooms in my house and have big plans for the rest. Organized many cabinets, even built a shelf in one. Got a much needed surgery done. Scheduled long neglected physical therapy appointments. Joined bible studies, prayer groups, the PTO. Met friends for lunch. Got a mani/pedi, right in the middle of the day.

I even convinced myself that this was a good thing, this delay. A gift. Some “me time” before I jump back into the me-less world of mothering an infant, especially an adopted infant.

Then tonight, I get a text from a dear friend, with long awaited and coveted information about the child she is finally about to meet. “He was abandoned in a market,” she writes. “Someone brought him to the orphanage. They gave him a name and a birthday. He was so malnourished, they were probably a year off. Think he’s 3, not 2.”

And the walls I’ve built up come tumbling down and pummel my heart out of its sleep state. As it awakens I remember why I turned it off. It was because these stories hurt.

Once I was shopping at Target and there was a little girl of about four years old, walking alone. I took note, then a minute later, when she was still alone, I walked closer, and stared. When I took my eyes off her for a quick second, I noticed that there were no less than three other women, all of us staring at her. Our mom-dars had all gone off, and from a safe distance, we had encircled her like a band of wild animals. We would not leave her until we knew she was safe. Finally she cried “Mommy!” and bounded away to a worried faced woman. Instantly the spell was broken, and all of us went back to sifting through sundresses or pocket tees.

Had a boogie man tried to approach that child, he would have had four women to contend with. Would we have let him take her had we any suspicions? Not on her life. Not on his life. Not on our lives. Is it because we were heroes? No. We were just mothers.

I vividly recall myself at her age, wandering in another Target unaware that I was even lost, when someone firmly gripped my arm and began to walk away with me. I tagged along unquestioningly, curious, until we appeared at the front counter where a man asked my name and paged my mother. The strange silent woman disappeared. She had rescued me from the unknown. Was she a hero? No. She was just a mother.

Another time, I was separated from my family at Galveston beach. Another strange woman grabbed my hand, talked to me about seashells as she walked me up and down the beach until I was claimed. Was she a hero? No. She was just a mother.

I picture another little boy, abandoned in a crowded place on the other side of the world. Tears stream down my face as I imagine how scared he must have been. I pray that if he has any memory from that day, the Lord will see fit to erase it. I praise Him that He has taken what was eaten by locusts and is restoring it here, with two parents who have labored so long and painfully for the opportunity to call this child their own.

But I wonder what happened, that day at the market. How many strangers passed by, not taking note of a crying, lonely toddler? But some noticed. Some strangers stared, and circled him, until one grabbed his hand, took him to the proper place, made sure he was not left prey to anyone who might wish him evil. Because Lord knows they are out there. The stranger who took his hand knew that they are out there. And the stranger rescued him.

Was that stranger a hero? No. But I bet you, I just bet you, she was a mother.

And now that child, who has fattened up and found his smile in an orphanage in Africa, will soon be held firmly by the hands of my friend and her husband. She has sacrificed more than the woman at the beach. She has spent a lot more than the women at Target. Is my friend a hero? No. She is just a mother.

There’s a lot of controversy about those of us who adopt thinking of ourselves as “rescuers” – there’s a lot of criticism for rich white people who “swoop in” (as if) and adopt poor brown babies. This mentality is probably contributing in part to the slowdown in Ethiopia now.

I get it – now, finally, over two years in this wretched process. I’ve been schooled. My innocence is gone. I’ve learned things about the adoption ‘industry’ that has made me literally want to throw up. And recently Walker and I watched this movie, which shows clearly that indeed, those people do exist. A certain celebrity and her questionably ethical adoptions have only perpetuated the stereotype of a brown skinned baby being the latest must-have accessory for the highly fashionable trendsetting white woman.

Do I think that we are “rescuing” our daughter?

Another confession: (deep sigh) (bracing myself) yeah. I believe fervently that orphanages are no place to raise children. I believe that even the most loving, well run orphanage is an institution, and God did not design the human child psychologically, emotionally, or spiritually to be mothered by an institution.

Was I rescued as an infant by my own adoptive parents? Yeah. Although that was not their intent, I was. Because I also don’t believe that I was designed psychologically, emotionally, or spiritually to be mothered by an unwed, unsupported, immature teenager.

Is adoption the answer? Not in the long term. Adoption is chemotherapy to the cancer of the orphan crisis. And like chemo, it is painful and sickening and makes your hair fall out and sometimes it doesn’t even work. In a perfect world, there would be no adoption. There would be no need.

But our world is far from perfect.
And this imperfect world is full of orphanages full of children.

I am white, but am not rich (not by American standards anyway). It takes an incredible amount of effort for me to be marginally fashionable, and I haven’t set a trend in a good twenty years. I’m just someone who enjoys being a parent, who (with my husband) was called to adopt – neither by a chorus of angels nor a burning bush, just the boring ole way of seeing it mandated in Scripture over and over and over and over to care for the orphan.

There are millions of little children wandering alone in places like Ethiopia and Russia and Korea and Houston and Dallas and Nashville and Peoria. My mom-dar has got to beeping, and I am slowly, oh so dang slowly, encircling one of them.

Am I a hero?
No. I’m just a mother.

 

Thank you, Missy! That was incredible. Read more of what Missy has to say at It’s Almost Naptime.  Did you miss the beginning of this series on adoption? Read When I Close My Eyes HERE or find out how you can help save a life with $1 HERE. If you didn’t get a chance to contribute to the families at Give 1 Save 1, please visit and consider donating $1. 

Carol