Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Racism is Dead?

We are in the midst of tragedy. In the very middle of a terrible situation where a young man has lost his life. A mother has lost her son. A father has lost his son. Teenagers have lost a friend. And somehow in the middle of all of this the church, those who call themselves Christians, have lost compassion. Regardless of the guilt or innocence of the man who did the shooting, a boy's life was lost. A person that God created, in His image, with all the love and care that He created every other life on this planet, is gone. Forever gone. His mom will never see his face again or hear the words, "I love you, mom" come from his mouth. Oh those precious words uttered in your little boy's voice.

Church, where are you? Where has your compassion gone? Please somebody enlighten me as to where in the bible it says it is okay to justify or gloss over the death of a boy all because of the color of his skin. Please tell me where you see Jesus hating people because they are different than Him. We are the body of Christ! We are to act like Him. We are to be His feet and His hands. The Jesus I know loves people. The Jesus I know has compassion. The Jesus I know would never let the death of a person be the end of a joke or the final jab at a community.

If you, even for a minute, have believed that racism is dead, take a look at social media right now. This very morning, in the year 2014, I have read comments like, "If blacks don't like it here then go back to Africa," or "Of course they're looting. What do you expect from those people. Always looking for a handout." Are you kidding me?!?!

Racism is alive and well, folks! It sits nicely in our pretty little houses with our nice clothes and the smile on our face as we enter our churches praising God for the privilege we so quickly forget we live in. Racism rests behind the words as we say we love Jesus but continue to hate an entire group of people solely based on the color of their skin. Racism is fully wrapped in every comment that begins with the words, "I'm not racist but..." or "There are stereotypes for a reason."

Genesis 1:27 says, "So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

John 3:16-17says, "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world but that the world might be saved through Him..."

The bible clearly states that we are ALL created in God's image and He sent His Son to save us ALL. Heaven will not be a white only event. There will be people of all different colors and cultures bowing before the King, feasting at His table. It should be on earth as it is in heaven. We should come together as the body of Christ. There is beauty in diversity. Our lens for looking at life should not be a black or white lens but a gospel lens.

There is history and there is a hard past here in the South. There are effects from this past that linger today that a white culture may not see and won't understand. You don't have to see it to know that it is there. If the black community is rising up and reacting so strongly to the Ferguson trial, as believers we need to ask why. We need to look beyond the riots and the looting to the pain that has caused such a reaction. We need to be vessels of healing instead of vehicles of slander and anger. If we are to model our lives after Christ then we need to respond in a Christ like manner, with love and compassion.

Racism is alive and thriving in the south, in our city, in our homes and in our churches. If we are to ever see this change, then as the body of Christ we need to look more like Christ. Church, where is your compassion?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Adoption is a Trend


     I have heard a lot of talk recently about adoption being a trend.  I have heard comments about how churches should not encourage adoption because it makes people feel guilty.  I have heard people say that adoption is a trend that Christians are following just to be better Christians.

I cannot imagine a scenario where this could be the case.  Even if a family began the adoption journey on a whim to avoid guilt or fulfill the need to fit in, they wouldn't last.  A desire to follow a trend wouldn't hold out long enough and the guilt would fade.  A trend couldn't hold up to the test of the adoption journey.  Adoption is not for the trend seekers; it requires more strength and more endurance than a mere attempt to fit in could withstand.   

Adoption is happening more and more and Christians are rising up and bringing home children from all over the world.  You see, the bible tells us...

Isaiah 1:17 "learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression: bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.

I know it may seem like trend.  I know a lot of Christians are adopting.  I know a lot of churches are speaking out for adoption and calling people to consider how God would have them grow their family.  This is not promotion of a trend but a call to obey what God clearly says in the bible.  Now I am not saying everyone is called to adopt, but we are all called to "learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause."  What that means for each person is between that person and God.  It does mean for a lot of us that we are called to grow our family through adoption.  

I feel like anyone who has ever gone or is currently going through the adoption process laughs or cringes at these comments about adoption being a trend.  The emotions that flood your life as you navigate through the adoption journey are enough to make even those called and fortified by the hand of God to waver and fall weak.  The journey is long and hard and filled with so many ups and downs that your head begins to spin.  Adoption is very much about growing your family, but it also changes your heart.  It opens your eyes to a world of need and brokenness and beauty and grace.  You end the process a different person that you began.

Trends don't change people. They make you look pretty and give a fleeting moment of significance and worth.  They don't fill you up and force your knees to bow and your eyes to turn to your Savior.  Adoption moves you and allows God to fill you where you once were empty.

Adoption is beautiful redemption for our broken world.  Adoption is the gospel lived out in a tangible way. Adoption is a miraculous picture of what God, through Jesus, has done for us.  Adoption is an amazing way to grow a family.

I don't say all of this to say that my family has this strength and this endurance so look at our awesomeness.  We don't.  We wavered, became weary and wanted to quit.  If this had been an attempt on our part to follow a trend or avoid guilt, we would have given some eloquently stated excuse and bowed out.  In the moments we doubted and were so tired we wanted to quit, what held us and kept us strong was the voice of God whispering to hold on, to fight because our child was waiting for us.  That is the difference in the call to adopt and a trend.  A trend is the pursuit of the latest purse or a home makeover.  Adoption is the fight that brings your child home.

 Adoption is a lot of things, but it is not a trend.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Time for Introductions

Meet Aiden Curtis West!

This little love joined our family July 31.  The ten day revocation period ended today.  So, now it is my privilege, as his mama, to introduce Aiden to the world.  He was born May 15.  He now weighs 11.2 lbs and is 22.5 in long.  He is in great health and is a sweet sweet little boy.

His birth mother is a wonderful, intelligent young woman who loves him very much. She has known from the beginning that God has big plans for Aiden and that those plans include adoption.  We feel honored and blessed that she has chosen our family for Aiden.  We will always and forever be thankful for the great sacrifice of love she has been willing to make for her son to now be our son.  There are no words that can fully express our respect for her or our gratitude to her.

We have prayed for this little boy for a year and a half now, since before he was even conceived.  Even before we knew him, God knew him and knew he would be a part of our family.  Just as God knit Aiden together in the womb, He is knitting and grafting him into our family.  What an amazing God we serve that writes stories we can hardly comprehend.  I am and always will be thankful for this call to adoption.  It has been a hard, long road, but I have seen my Father's hand and felt his embrace the entire journey.  Now that Aiden is here, all I know to do is praise Him because it is all because of Him that this is the path Adam and I took to grow our family.

Aiden is ours, we are his. And we are forever changed by this little blessing.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Created for Care - Part 2 - Names of God

There were two parts of the conference that I really was not looking forward to attending.  It wasn't that I thought they were going to be terrible, they just didn't seem as appealing as the rest of the options.  The first was this time called "Date with God," and the second was a breakout session called "Coffee Talk."  I'll give you two guesses which two sessions God used the most over the weekend.  God is funny like that!

So..."Date with God" ...even the name sounds hokey.  I just knew this was going to be one of those times that was cheesy and filled with things that try to stir women's emotions and draw out tears.  I went because my friend said we should at least attempt to experience everything the conference had to offer.  My attitude was bad.  But, my heart was already so raw from the chiseling God had been doing that it didn't take long for His sweet voice to enter in and replace hokey with divine.  During that time, I had picked two cards out of a bowl with names of God on them.  I thought, well, just to pass the time, I'll look at these names and all the scripture references that go along with them.

The first name I had randomly drawn was God's name, El Roi: the God who sees.  I heard God reminding me that He sees me.  He sees all.  Genesis 6:3 says, "Truly here I have seen Him who looks after me."  I am not forgotten, and God knows exactly what my heart desires.  He sees me, and He is looking out for me.  How precious it is to have a God, a father, that is looking after me.  I could see in my mind's eye the image of a father running after and protecting his little girl.  Sweet, sweet time.  In Psalm 139, it says, "Where shall I go that you are not there?"  God sees me and is always with me.  Knowing this, how can I be afraid or doubt that I am in the right place.  I have a God that is watching out for me and has far above and beyond what I can imagine in store for our family.  It is a blessing to be called to adoption and to know that, not only do I have a God who sees me, I have a God who sees my baby.  Such comfort!

    So, I have established that God is a God who sees me.  The next name I pulled out was Jehovah Jireh: You provide.  Well, there you have it.  God sees me, and He provides for me.  Matthew 6:8 says," [...] your Father knows what you need before you ask Him."  God whispered, "You are not forgotten."  He knows my need, my longing, to grow our family.  He is providing the peace, patience, and grace to stand the waiting and disappointments along the way.  He is not only providing a way to stand theses times; He is replacing the frustration with joy.  He provides, and He graciously reminded me that He, and only He, sustains.  I can rest in Him and allow Him to turn our waiting into joy.

Now for "Coffee Talk."  Again with the name! It sounds like surface level chitchat.  I guess I did not read the description very well.  Within the first few seconds, I realized that I might have been in over my head at this point.  God was chiseling away all weekend, and I was unsure that my heart could withstand the mighty surgeon's hand any longer.  God knows when to cut and when to soothe.  There was an adult adoptee and an adoptive mama speaking and answering questions for the rest of us.  As the adoptee spoke and shared her story, my heart melted for the future we will be blessed to have one day with our adoptive child, but it also broke for the questions and the struggles that this broken situation will bring.  She reminded me that our story is one of growing our family and not one of orphan care.  We are called to adoption but not to be rescuers, just to be a normal mama and daddy.  What a wonderful calling.  Here God replaced the frustration in the wait with joy for the calling.  Thank you, Lord, that You have a child for us.  What a treasured gift children are in the family!  She also reminded us that our story begins with a broken story first.  I need to remember that my child will experience a loss before being brought into our family.  I need to be willing to enter into this pain with him/her someday and realize that I can't fix it or take the pain away and that it is not my job to do so.  Finally, I was also reminded to have patience with others in our journey.  We were called to adopt.  That does not mean that everyone one of our friends or family members feels the same call or is ready to have an adoptive child in the family, especially if that means having a child of different ethnicity.  The speakers reminded me to have patience and respect our family and friends' journeys as they process and as God moves them in the direction they need to go.

In the last session, I was reminded that I serve a God that is always on time and that I should always be prepared to praise and worship Him.

Throughout the entire conference, the Great Healer gently and methodically cut away the parts, in my heart, that were cancerous and replaced them with whole, life-giving, overflowing-with-joy parts.  God, in His wisdom, changed things deep inside me that I was unaware needed changing.  He showed me that this is not about me.  God has a plan, and what a joy it is to be part of this plan.  What better way to serve God than to take care of His children!?  What an honor it is that God has already entrusted us with two little loves and is preparing our hearts for more.  This is only the beginning.  God has opened a door in my heart and my eyes to His work in the world of adoption and orphan care.  I don't know what all He has in store for us, but I am looking forward to the journey.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Created for Care Part 1 - Repentance and Reliance

    A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to an adoption conference called Created for Care.  I traveled and roomed with some friends from Huntsville, AL.  I couldn't decide what I was more excited about:  the trip with good friends or the conference.  I had no clue what all God had in store for me during the sweet weekend with a lodge full of adoptive mamas.

    You see, adoption is a journey, for our family, that I don't always understand.  As I have shared in other post, adoption is hard.  The wait is hard.  The longing is hard.  The not knowing is hard. Adoption is also amazing, and the ways in which God is showing Himself to me and my family are, well, hard to even describe.  The love I can have for a child I have yet to meet is amazing.  The way my heart has been changed and drawn to love a God, one that I have known for years, more and more is amazing.  The way my sweet little family of four gathers together to ask God to care for soon-to-be (hopefully) family members and to bring them home quickly is amazing.  The questions that adoption brings for my five and three year old to ask is amazing. The way the word adoption opens the door to share the gospel with people we barely know is amazing.

    God has moved and worked and moved and worked in my heart throughout our adoption story and I am sure there is moving and working yet to come.  God used this conference to gently, but undeniably, reveal sin in my heart and renew a reliance on Him.  I thought I would walk away with great knowledge nuggets about adoption and a feeling of encouragement.  While those two things are true, they take a back burner to the truth shown to me.

I could feel God working from the minute I entered the van with the three godly women with whom God orchestrated for me to travel.  I could feel His gentle, unmistakable chiseling.  One of my friends said, "When God calls you to do something, you don't make a pros and cons list.  That is just not how obedience works.  We are called to a obey."  Such wisdom.  Such truth.  I could feel the walls beginning to break.

Once we arrived, it seemed the theme of every session, no matter the actual topic, was drawing me to repent.  It started in the first breakout session, "Waiting", when a woman shared her story and then shared that she felt God asking her, "What if the things you view as failures are actually successes?  Will you still follow me?  Will you still follow when you don't understand?"  Wham! Like that, this question entered my heart with such force I couldn't breath.  Will I?  Am I?  While I wait, on the days I feel discouraged, am I trusting and following God?  There were now gaping holes in my walls.

Then, in our main session, the speaker spoke from Exodus about God using Moses to tell Pharaoh to let His people go. At one point, during the plague of frogs, Pharaoh agrees to let the people go because he wants the frogs gone.  Moses asks when he would like the frogs to go, and Pharaoh says tomorrow.  Tomorrow! Really, Pharaoh, tomorrow, not now this very minute?  The speaker points out that frogs are like our sin, and God is saying, "I have freedom for you; just let go of your frog." And we say, "Hold on. Tomorrow."  That got me thinking, "What is my frog? What am I holding on to?"  And down the walls came.

  The chisel had broken through and my heart was laying outside of me, raw and vulnerable.  I could see all the dark spots clearly now.  I could see the parts of my heart that were no longer fleshy and full but hardened and dark.  I could see a belief that had crept in and was shriveling my heart bit by bit.  If it continued, my heart would no longer beat and pump life into me, and those around but would turn completely hard and crumble, giving in to the lies that the enemy had placed there.

God began, in a way that only He can, to show me that I was not trusting in Him.  I had given in to the lie that God is not good and that He is not calling us to what is best for us.  I had been holding onto control.  I had become selfish in my desire to adopt, and I had made His calling about me.  Having children, whether biologically or through adoption, is not about me.  This life, my life, is about obedience to God.  He has called us to adopt just as he called us to biologically have children.  This is His plan for our life, and He is in control.

My job, my family's job, is to be obedient, say yes, and be in a position to be used.  In God's timing, He will call on us to be a family for a child. And, when that time comes, we will be overjoyed.  For now, we wait with expectancy, and we rest in the knowledge that we serve a mighty God and that this is His plan, His life.