Friday, September 21, 2012

God's redeeming love

A little over two years ago, I stepped off an airplane for the very first time onto Ghanaian soil.  From day one it just felt "right". It felt normal and I felt at place.  And I was broken for little ones that needed love, that needed hugs, that needed me to just be.

This was also our first trip to meet Samuel and Helen.  Oh, I can remember that day like it was yesterday.  He walked across the room with a HUGE smile on his face and wrapped his little arms around my neck while she stood back very unsure, untrusting, scared.

I knew our work was cut out for us with our sweet daughter.  And for the next two weeks while we were in Ghana she proved us right.  Time after time she tested us and tried us.  It was a very long two weeks, but two that I would NEVER trade, even in the hard.  The really, really hard.

Once we got home and waited to return to pick them up, we kept praying for little Helen.  Our sweet angel who had endured (and was still enduring) so much pain.  So much suffering.  Words can never erase any of it.  In my mind, I thought Samuel would adjust so well when he came "home".  We had all bonded while we were in country with him.  He was so happy and loving.  Something was brewing, though.  Something that would stand between he and I, but no one else in the family.

In November of 2010 we landed in the US as a family of 7 and everything changed.  Some good, some not so good.  Some really, really hard stuff.  Some really, really good stuff.  And I saw something so different than what I had seen in Ghana.  I saw a desperate little boy, hurting deeply.  Confused and trying to understand.  Thrown into a new culture at the age of 6+ and not understanding "our" ways.  A little boy who had never really experienced love.  Who had never been shown affection.  A little boy who was confused about his whole life now.  He had been lied to, deceived and my heart was broken.  I wondered if he would ever trust again.  I spent hours rocking his little body as his tears poured down his face.  And I prayed for God to give me the words, to live through me, to help me parent a little boy that I loved so much.  And I did this while my husband traveled for his job and I realized how much our son needed his daddy to be home.

As the months passed, Samuel went through so many transitions.  He disobeyed (almost nonstop).  He hit.  He fled.  He had almost no regard for me, but oh how he adored his daddy.  That didn't help, though, because he was only home 3 days a week.  Almost every day, I thought I would reach the end of my rope. I wanted so desperately to help Samuel, but I felt like I kept hitting a wall. I felt this distance between the two of us that I came to despise.  We just couldn't "get" one another.  There was a constant disorder, disagreement between us and I hated it.  On the other hand, he had attached so well to his siblings.

Righ and I (along with many friends) covered Samuel in prayer.  We pleaded with God to restore the relationship between he and I. And at times, I lost hope that it would ever come.  Then, I was reminded that God gave me this beautiful child and He was bigger than the wall between us.  He is a God of redemption. Redeeming love kept playing over and over in my mind.  Redeeming love.

When Righ, Sydney and Keenan hopped on that plane two weeks ago and I was under the weather, I didn't know how things would go.  God, however, did and He has AMAZED me.  Their trip is exactly what Samuel and I needed.  A good two weeks to BOND completely, wholely. For him to sit with me and listen to me tell me for the millionth time I LOVE YOU. I will never leave you. I am here and I'm not going anywhere.  For me to ask him if I can hug him and for him to say, "Mom, no one ever hugged me before you.  I really like it, but I'm just not sure what to do."  A time for God to break my heart all over again for this treasure He gave me. A time for Samuel and I to make a deal that he has to intitiate one hug each day and I do the same.  The joy on his little face over that deal was remarkable.  I needed time to see Samuel thrive in the helper role.  And he needed to feel needed.

I have watched this little boy become my guardian over the last two weeks.  Constantly helping me, wanting to do something for me because he LOVES me.  It hurts me to walk up and down the stairs so he helps with Bless in the mornings and at night. This morning, we were all awake except Bless and he started crying.  Samuel jumped up and came back with the sweetest little guy all cuddled up against his shoulder.  Tears of joy and happiness and relief and love poured down my cheeks as I realized once again just how awesome our God truly is. How He is a God of redeeming love. And how he had done a mighty, mighty work in our family.

So many people have said adoption is so hard. Yes, it is.  And the hardness doesn't get talked about much.  Sometimes it does, but sometimes not.  After bringing four little ones home, I am no expert, but I know what we have lived through.  It has been HARD, but so worth it.  I would live each moment again to get to where we are today.  Do we still have struggles?  Of course, with each of our adopted children, but also with our biological ones.  We will always have struggles, but they will never be bigger than our God.  He is greater than all of them.  ALL OF THEM.  Remind yourself of that in the hard days, the days when you feel like you are at the end of your rope.  God will be there waiting for you, constantly waiting.

Romans 8:31 - When God is for us, who can be against us?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

6 months and a trip

Six months ago yesterday Sydney, Keenan and I stepped off an airplane with Joseph and Bless.  Two sweet boys that had stolen our hearts.  Two sweet boys that God said, "those are your sons".  Two sweet boys who made our family of 9 complete (for the time being).

As they adjusted into our family, it seemed like they just "fit".  Yes, Bless threw 2 year old temper tantrums and still does occasionally.  And Joseph is learning to ALWAYS tell the truth and that he is loved here unconditionally.  So many adjustments we have gone through with all 7 of them. Some good, some not so good.  It's just part of the territory. Adoption is amazing, but hard.  It's a faith walk.  It's all about trust.  Trusting in Jesus to give you the strength for each new day.  BUT even on those hard days, this makes it worth it.  This makes it ok.

And then yesterday I found us back at the airport.  This time on a different journey. Righ, Sydney and Keenan are headed back to Ghana, but not for an adoption. This time it's solely a mission trip.  A trip to serve God's children, to be His hands and feet, to follow Him wherever He leads them.  A trip of total surrender to what God has called our family to do.

My sweet Sydney will be traveling back to the place she feels God has called her....Africa.  And this is her first trip without me.  (She's delivering hugs to all the little people, my Ghanaian friends and my sweet friend, Robin and her crew.)   

Keenan has fallen in love with the people of Ghana like I never imagined he would and it makes this momma's heart happy.  Recently, he asked when we would be moving to Ghana because that's where he feels like he fits in the most.  Ahh, my heart.  Not now.  It's all about trust.

And the love of my life.  As the leader of our family, he's journeying to where our hearts are, to where four of our children have been born.  He's following Jesus to where He has called him.  

Those precious people took a piece of my heart with them yesterday. 


A longing heart that desires to be in Ghana loving single mothers, hugging little ones, whispering "Jesus loves you" in their ears and scooping them up.  Now is not the time, though.  Soon.  For now, my hands and arms are full of 5 little treasures that adore me and vice versa.  Little people that God blessed me with.  Little people that He has entrusted to me.  Little people that I pray will learn to love our God more than anything else in this world and to follow Him at all costs.  Little people that are still adjusting and some of them overcoming trauma that will take years. Little people that give the most incredible hugs that can heal most anything.

So journey with us over the next two weeks as our family is on two continents loving and serving Him in both places.  Pray with us for God to continue to break our hearts for what breaks His.  Break completely, wholely.

for we walk by faith, not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7

Saturday, July 21, 2012

a harsh reality....

Last week, I posted those three words on Facebook because it was all I could muster.  It was all I could say to describe how I was feeling.  You see, last Tuesday as I sat holding precious little ones who just wanted to be loved it hit me again. 

A harsh reality.  Children that are hurting. Children that are afraid to walk out their front door because of the gunshots.  Children that go to sleep at night because they are hungry. Children that are dying because they drink dirty water when so many others throw clean water away.  Children that have begged me to find them a mommy and a daddy.  Children that have no choice. Children that have no one.  Children that are longing.  And longing for what?  Hope. Life. Love. And ultimately, Jesus, but they may not even realize it.  This is their harsh reality. This is life for so many.  And me?  I sit here in my American home full of 7 beautiful children and "things".  Things that we do not need.  Beds that are empty. Arms that are willing to love. Children that are willing to accept another sibling because it means another orphan will be an orphan NO MORE.  And the harsh reality hit me that I am selfish.  Grieving. Brokenhearted and longing to just follow Jesus down the path He has for us.

Matthew 6:21 - For where your treasure is, there also will your heart lie.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

As I woke, I realized it was my Mother's Day as a mama to 7 beautiful, wonderful treasures.  My heart was full and I knew it would be an amazing day.  We loaded into the car set for a new church that morning and I had no idea the blessing I would receive that day!!

We attended the service with all 7 of our children and to be honest, there weren't a ton of kids in the sanctuary. Most of them were in Sunday school.  I have to admit, I was a little guarded with my little ones.  Bless being 2 who has no idea yet what being quiet means.  Realistically neither do Helen (4), Aiden (5) and definitely Joseph (8).  Sitting still and being quiet is still something we are training the little ones on and since Joseph has only been in the US for 2 months, everything is a new experience.  A new learning opportunity.

We stood and worshipped our King. I thanked Him for the little people He has placed around me.  I begged Him to lead me as I lead them, as I teach them to be warriors for Him, as Righ and I disciple each child God is entrusting us with.  Then, a very special moment came.  The worship pastor had set aside a very special service for all adoptive parents and children.  As he explained what we were to do, tears formed in my eyes.  How was I to do that, but how could I not? Every adult child, every adoptive parent, anyone involved in adoption could go forward, take a red rose provided and lay it on the stage in honor of the birth mother who sacrificed so much.

I was holding Bless in my arms and I cuddled him closer and closer. I looked at Righ with tears in my eyes as he held Helen and I knew he was nudging me.  My tears came faster and I prayed for God to protect the mothers that had given up my babies.  I wanted so desperately to go to the front, but I wondered if I could even compose myself to walk up that aisle?  At that moment as I was convincing myself I could do this without sobbing, Righ stepped out into the aisle and I led the way.  Tears flowing with each step and Bless' arms wrapped around my neck.  Once I got to the front, I picked up the rose and immediately Bless leaned over and took it from me.  He looked into my eyes, then placed that rose on the stage.  And I lost it.  How could I not?  He is 2 years old, had no idea what we were doing, but yet he did.  He honored his birth mother and me all at the same time.  As I turned to walk away, I saw Helen do the same thing for her own birth mother.  And I walked back to our seats where the other children were seated. With each step, the tears did not stop, but kept flowing.  My heart was broken and rejoicing at the same time.  Thankful and sad.  And everyone saw it.  Everyone saw the pain in my eyes and the little brown skinned baby in my arms and I pray someone was moved to pray for the millions of mothers around this world who cannot be mothers.  The ones that feel they have no choice but to give up their babies. The ones who feel forced into selling their children into slavery to feed the others.  The ones who choose which children will receive food that night and which ones will not.  Father, forgive us where we fail you and equip us to advocate for them.

And that was my most beautiful, blessed Mother's Day yet!!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ultimate Provider

Friday morning, I loaded up 3 of our boys to go to an appointment at Children's Hospital and left Sydney babysitting the other three kids.  As I usually am, I was late.  This made me a little stressed because to me this was a very important doctor's visit.  Our oldest son, Keenan, was scheduled for us to get the results from a CT scan of his skull (a birth abnormality) because the area has become tender to the touch.

Trusting In Him that we would receive good news, I drove up to the parking garage at 10:32 for a 10:40 appointment.  Oh no, the 12 passenger van would not fit!!!  I frantically started looking around for somewhere else to park. This garage is where I ALWAYS park because I am usually in a smaller car.  (We are down to one car since Righ gave back his business car last week.)

I drove up the hill to a sign that said PUBLIC PARKING.  I pulled into the lot and realized I had no money, but needed to pay or risk being towed. At this point, I was on the phone with my sweet friend, Robin.  She was near where I was and offered to bring me money, but then she realized she didn't have any either.  I hung up hurriedly and starting searching the car for change and asking Keenan to do the same, while pleading with God to help.  I didn't know it, but my friend (who had offered to bring money) was praying for God to intervene.

By this time, it was 10:38.  I told Keenan to get the boys out of the car, jumped out and ran across the parking lot to the PAY ON YOUR OWN machine.  As I ran up to the machine, there was this sweet little woman dressed in her Sunday best wearing what reminded me of a Kentucky Derby hat with a pocketbook slung over her wrist.  She turned right to me and said, "I have a parking pass I paid $10 for and only used it for ten minutes.  Can I give it to you so I don't waste my money?"

And the tears came.  And I was speechless.  And I heard her say, "Oh, just come with me and let me give you my ticket."  I followed her in awe and amazement.  As I walked, I could only think why had I doubted my God, why did I think He would leave me with no money to park.  He supplies each and every need our family has.  Every single time.

I wanted to hug that little lady in front of me.  I think she was an angel standing right there and I will NEVER EVER forget her face.  She is forever printed in my memory as a gentle reminder of God's precious love.

I walked back to my three sons, put the ticket in my van window and walked across the parking lot toward the hospital.  The last thing I remember is that little woman waving at the boys and I.  Once again, I will always have her smiling and waving at my little boys imprinted in my head.

Thank you, Jesus, for showing up in your own time....not mine!!!  Your way is so much better and brings way more Glory and Honor to your HOLY NAME!!!

Matthew 6:26 -
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

"I am forever changed"

Two years ago today, our oldest daughter, Sydney, refused to eat pizza. And we were forever changed.  She asked for just bread and water and God changed our whole family. She had a goal of raising $500 and God raised much, much more than that.  God took the vision of a 10 year old girl and used it for His glory and developed a non-profit ministry.  How thankful I am!!

Click HERE to read her blog post from today.  Then, watch this video she put together this week.  Ask God how you can be forever changed.

Then, help FEEDING THE ORPHANS celebrate the vision God gave her two years ago TODAY by making a DONATION to make a difference in the life of ONE.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Yesterday it hit me.  The reality of stepping out in faith. The reality of 7 children and a husband who just followed Jesus out of the corporate world to care for the fatherless of the world.

Trust.  Complete trust. That's where we stand.

Obedience.  Complete obedience.  That's where we want to be.

Crazy?  Yes, that is what we are called.  We brought four beautiful children home from Africa in 15 months and people think we are crazy.  My perspective? There are more than 147 million little faces that need a mommy right now.  Now, that's CRAZY.

However, yesterday when the reality of our last paycheck and Righ's company car being picked up today hit me, I had a "deep breath" day.  Big deep breaths.

Then, I was reminded of Jesus and where He has us. This is our new journey, a new chapter and He is in control.  So, as we step into it, we trust.  We obey. We let Him lead. Then, we follow wherever He takes us.

A sweet friend asked late yesterday afternoon if I had read Jesus Calling for the day.  I had not and she encouraged me to go home and do just that (we left at 7:30 am for dentist and dr. appts plus grocery shopping).

Let the radiance of My Glory shine upon you, as you wait on Me in confident trust.  Be still and know that I am God.  There is both a passive and an active side to trusting Me.  As you rest in My Presence focusing on Me, I quietly build bonds of trust between us. 

Words of reassurance. Words of peace.  Yes, God is leading.  Yes, we are following.  And yes, we trust.  Now that opportunity is greater, but so is the possibility for more Glory to shine upon our KING!!!

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31