Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What I Didn't Know

She was a tiny little girl, just barely 4 years old. The first day we met her she had on too big clothing, shoes that were hanging together by threads (sandals that barely stayed on her feet), and a pony tail on top her her head, like a water spout.

Her eyes were filled with something - weariness? 

I will never know exactly. As we sat in the directors office and listened to the list of "problems" on file I remember thinking "it will be okay...it will be okay." 

If she had been born to us biologically it wouldn't have mattered what the diagnosis was. Didn't matter what terms medical professionals would saddle upon her. She is SO much more than the  labels or limits the director tried to convince us was Sveta.

Sitting in that room I knew we would fight for her, for her to have the best possible life, future, and we would always be there for her.

What I didn't know is how deeply I would grow to love this little person. 
How her grin and laugh would cause my heart to swell with emotion.
How naturally her little hand taking mine as we walk together would feel.
How the sound of her crying over anything would make my heart break.
How intently I would fight for her.
How every accomplishment would invoke an insane level of pride in her.

What I  also didn't know is how difficult it would be coming home and adjusting with a little person who had never known love, trust, attachment or appropriate boundaries. Anyone who says adoption is easy or paints a glossy picture of perfection might not be painting the whole truth.
Adoption is born of pain and loss. No adoption comes without some level of heartache. 

But adoption is also a gift, a blessing and Sveta is a true joy to our family. She is almost 8 now. She is beginning to ask questions about her "old house" and we temper our answers age appropriately. 
We always want her to know of the beautiful place where she was born, of Ukraine's history, of her unique story. 

And to embrace her story along with all of its beautiful intricacies.  

No one person has a perfect story or perfect life. 

We teach our children to embrace diversity and focus on the gift of grace that God has given us. Because while life is always going to be bring a level of heartache, when we focus on eternal truth and the gift of life together as a family, we have all we need in this life. 

Her life is precious. Uniquely Sveta. Just as God created her, in His perfect image.

Sveta, almost four years home, 7 years old

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Through the Shadows

The newspaper (what's that???) followed our family for six months in 2004/2005. Emma's eyes are so dark in these pictures but they were actually blue. I'm not sure why they are so dark. She was going blind by this stage of the syndrome, such a dreadful thing to witness in such a tiny little person. 

Its that time of year again. 

Winter winds down and God shows his glory through new life - spring flowers, baby birds...all this the backdrop to one of the most difficult times in our lives. In 2005 we careened through April and made our way into May, vaguely aware of what was coming as our 3 year old Emma lingered between heaven and earth. 

We were a young family who had three children under the age of 5. 

Life with one child who was terminally ill was sharply juxtaposed against life with two rambunctious, messy little ones, the "P's". 

While I think of Emma girl every single day, this time of year all the memories flood back in a surge, and at crazy times. Sitting in the car line. Cooking dinner. Walking through target and seeing the clothes section she never grew out of. 

Size 6 months. I carried her 99% of the time,  would have carried her in my arms for the rest of my life. Tiny little girl, so full of life, and laughter.

Though she is no longer in my arms, I carry the love and lessons she brought to our lives with me.

 I am a better person and better servant of the Lord because of her. 

She left her imprint on our souls and it is well...well with my soul. I wouldn't change a single thing. Even the ending - because truly that ending is simply another beginning. 

And it is within that beginning where my hope lies. 

It is well. Hope never dies. Every morning is a new beginning. 

"You can only come to the morning through the shadows." JRR Tolkien

Monday, April 20, 2015

Still Rings True

Several years ago in the midst of Sveta's adoption I came across this blog post written by another person deeply passionate about the fatherless.  Last week I found it and felt it should be shared again. Not all families are supposed to adopt. And while many, many churches have amazing missions & outreaches not all speak on behalf of the fatherless. The church we went to when adopting Sveta was wonderful. It felt like family, we were life group leaders, committed members who were deeply passionate about giving and helping the church any way we could. There were many people in the church who rallied around our family to bring Sveta home. 

But many did not. And that was okay. I can't even describe the words that came out of the orphans and widows ministry leader as he compared adoption to buying a car, as a "large purchase", or the absolute backlash from others. The enemy does NOT like adoption to happen. And will go to great lengths to create division and doubt in the hearts of families who say YES. Many churches may be failing to spread the message of God's heart for the fatherless but we don't have to. I suppose that is why I will keep yelling about the fatherless and supporting families adopting. Once I looked into Sveta's eyes my world changed. While the number, I've heard 147 million as one estimate, might change the children- disabled, older, discarded - they each have a story, a name. Sveta was number 6 in her groupa. 

But she is so much more than a number. They ALL are so much more. 

Repost from Lou Brown, The Gloves Come Off: 

I am sitting here on Sunday afternoon after watching church on the telly since we can't go in person. Some of the biggest churches in the world are on the telly. Not just on Sundays either. I watch TBN and the God Channel often. Most nights it is on whilst I work. 

So, why is this titled 'The Gloves Come Off'?

Here is why... the messages I'm hearing from these BIG churches are about seeking God's face, how to enrich your life, how to be prosperous, how to live the Christian life, how to really PRESS into worship... but NOTHING about the orphans, the fatherless, the ones without a voice. NOTHING. 

I know just posted about feeling conviction for saying things about ministers and the money they spend on clothing and the price of their worship centres. I did and I do feel conviction for that. It is unproductive to just criticise.

So what has happened since then, less than a week ago? I will tell you.

Since that post I have learned that THREE (possibly 4) of the precious children waiting for families on Reece's Rainbow, the children I work for, have been transferred to institutions. Whatever you have to say about the orphanages' care of these children, compared to the institutions those will seem like they mollycoddle the kids. Their lives, which were already insignificant, have turned to a nightmare.

Whilst I do NOT trivialise the plight of ALL orphans, the ones I work for are the least of the least of these... disabled orphans in the third world. There is simply not a lower 'class' than that. There is simply no one more least than these.


I don't think you do.

You ask why there are so many orphans in the world but God is asking US why there are so many!

WHAT do you think James 1.27 means?

WHAT do you think Matthew 25.40 means?

WHAT do you think Jesus talked about when he was here?

WHO did he spend his time with whilst he was here?

The churches are FULL people, church attendance is at a high... mega churches are many and minted! People all around the world are 'pressing in' in worship. But the orphanages are also full! This shouldn't be...

What are those churches' focusing on? 'Seeker sensitive' churches. Seeking out people in their community to 'get them into church' so they can hear the Gospel!

Don't get me wrong, I am a Christian and I will NEVER give up God. HE is faithful and just and righteous and worthy of all our praise.

The church... is failing. The church is only teaching part of the gospel... the part that talks about what WE get from it... not what is expected of us. They don't live the Gospel.

How long can the 'church' live on milk?

How long must child after child be discarded and sent to institutions where 85% die within the first year and honestly, they are the fortunate ones. The ones that 'live' are merely existing. Shells of a human being, their bodies don't grow and when they do they grow twisted from being left in beds and cots too small for a person of their age.

This is UGLY is it HARD TO LOOK AT but let me tell you something...

The most beautiful gift God EVER gave me was in the form of a little girl that the world would label defective and throw away. Had she been born in Eastern Europe she would have been thrown into an orphanage and if she survived that she'd have been put on a bus for her 4th birthday, a day which would hold no significance to her since they do not celebrate birthdays in these places, and carted off to an institution where her food would be scarce and shoved down her throat by a 'carers' fist whilst she gasped for air. She'd be left in a room with other children and older people all who have been institutionalised for varying amounts of time, months to years. They likely will be many who have what is known as 'institutional retardation' because they are never taught, never encouraged, only left to their own defences and that isn't much.

 This gift God gave me has been the one thing I could NEVER give up if asked. I could NEVER go back to the person I was before her. I could never go back to not knowing God's heart and touch and feeling His heartbeat. I could never go back.

Yet in the US and UK, you know, the civilised countries who point and shake their fingers  of scorn at Eastern Europe and shake their heads with disgust and condescension,  90% of the people in these civilised places INCLUDING THE CHURCH/CHRISTIANS, when they find out they are being given this precious GIFT that I hold in my arms every day,terminate them. It is what it is... death.  Just as much as it is for the kids in these institutions that will likely die from neglect, just slower and dragged out, it is comparatively the same thing.

And the church just sits back and prays and seeks new members, buys a new stage for their worship performances (yes, I'm hitting with those words to, it isn't worship, it is a performance - in some churches even includes a light show) and we LET THEM DIE.

WE ARE RESPONSIBLE for the lives of ALL of these kids.


Why are these countries discarding their children? Because we aren't telling them not to. How can we say 'don't kill them it is wrong' when we have a 90% termination rate for the same kids?



And these kids are the ones who pay the consequence.

These are the kids who die at our hands...

I knew NOTHING of this growing up... because I was never told of it... the church didn't tell me... no one did.

Then God gave me a gift... my child. She is the most perfect example of Christ's love that I've ever witnessed in anyone. The most Godly people I've ever met pale in her shadow... and she's only 4 years old.

What man considers the least of these, God gives them the place of most importance at His table.

And this little child led me and gave me the strength to look. Not just to see and be appalled but to look and see that these children were just as precious as she. They are Jesus on earth. They are the weak, the ones with no voice of their own. They are neglected and abused and unloved... by man. When we are in Heaven one day, we will realise how wrong we were for they will be the ones seated nearest our Saviour.

This is why  I am up until the wee hours of the morning literally falling asleep doing my work to help the  people who willgo to rescue these children. Because God has allowed me to feel a glimpse of His heart... for these children and for the mums and dads who are being lied to and made to think their children need to be discarded.

It is why the church should also be propping those families up. Those who are willing and able to follow God's callto ALL of us to care for the orphans shouldn't need to do endless fundraising to get the money to go bring these children home, the church should be paying their way.

The church is failing.

So, how can the church sort this?

How can the church rectify what is nothing short than an embarrassment to Christ's church?


Read this:
  27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble,and to keep oneself unspotted from the world
and this:
  40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’  
 and this:
27  Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,  
      When it is in the power of your hand to do so.
       11   Deliver those who are drawn toward death,    
      And hold back those stumbling to the slaughter.
       12  If you say, “Surely we did not know this,”  
      Does not He who weighs the hearts consider it?
      He who keeps your soul, does He not know it?
      And will He not render to each man according to his deeds?
       (Proverbs 24:11-12New King James Version)

teach your congregation about it.
  • There are 147 million orphans worldwide.
  • If even 4-5% of those people worldwide who claim to be Christians stepped forward to adopt these children, there would no longer be any orphans.
  • There are families (MANY just in our yahoo group alone) who are willing and qualified to adopt these children, they just don't have the extra funds for the costs involved with overseas adoption.

The church should be helping these families to adopt. 
The church should be encouraging families to adopt.

AND for those who can't adopt...

God doesn't expect you to give everything away, go hungry and become ill yourself. He DOES expect you to give what you can... do what you can.

If you can help promote someone's adoption or the Angel Tree via twitter or facebook or your blog, then you should be doing that!
 Twitter Facebook 

If you can help by donating to their adoption fund or to the kids on the Angel Tree, then do it! Even if you have to make a sacrifice... I'm not saying you should go hungry, but I am guessing most people could forego their Starbucks coffee once a week and give that money to the orphans, who incidentally do go hungry.

If you are a minister or have a business or anywhere you can be a voice, then you should be. Healings and worship are wonderful, they draw people to the church, but once they are there, you should be telling them about the orphans and widows. You should be TEACHING them how to care for them.

If you have a way to tell the nations about the value of the life of these children 
meaning, they don't get filled in the first place!

Then DO IT!

If you have room in your home and qualify to adopt, THEN DO IT!

The church IS failing...

                        but we don't have to...

Friday, April 3, 2015

1 Peter 2:24

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

May you be blessed.