What to Do When Your World Stops

This Sunday I am at home, wishing I could be at church.  It’s been another challenging week, bringing more pieces of my health puzzle together (more on that later).  This morning my mom sent me a link to a very encouraging message, which led me to another.

If you, too, are home sick today … or you are presently facing some other trials, these brief messages (less than 10 minutes each) will help lift your heart and give you direction.  Please feel free to share your comments below, including prayer requests.

Pressure Points – In this message, Pastor Kramer gives uplifting truth and hope to remember when (not if) we face trails.

When Your World Stops – This message is about how to keep going when you feel like your world is ripped out from under you.

There Is a Rock Unmoveable [Malachi 3:6]

Change.  There are constant changes in the weather, government, social expectations, schedules, appearance, numbers on the scale, gas prices, moods, friendships, health, technology, location, styles, stages in life, etc. The world system reminds me of a magnet, spinning faster and faster while threatening to suck people into a cloud of meaningless exhaustion and turmoil.  We are so easily side-tracked off the road of faith by the rabbit trails of restlessness, a product of a world changed from perfect to pernicious by our faithless disobedience.  It is enough to make me wish for a spiritual AAA number – come pick me up!  I’ve been stranded.  Thankfully there is something better … and my restlessness brings me to that point once again.

Tonight the vortex is threatening to undermine my security: my boys are sprouting up before my eyes, my body is aging, friendships come and go, moods ever wavering.  It’s easy to see the fickleness of the world, and less easy to see it in myself. I am soooo thankful that God is unlike me.  How awesome to consider my Best Friend is Someone so absolutely perfect that there is no room for improvement, never a sliding back due to celestial laziness.  Perfect Love!  Perfect Wisdom!  Perfect Strength!  Perfect Holiness!

“For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed,

O sons of Jacob.”  Malachi 3:6 NKJV

Thank You, God!  Because I belong to You, I will not be a satanic casualty.  Because of You there is absolute truth and rock-solid security in my world.  Help me to shine as a beacon of Your light to those caught up in their own religion of no absolutes. Jesus is my Rock in a weary land.  Selah.

God’s Stop Signs – My Allergy Elimination Diet and a Journey to Better Health (body, mind, spirit)

How was your summer?  I hope it was a great one! 

Our summer schedule looked inviting … with just the right amount of busy. But as soon as it started, it was a struggle. By the beginning of June I felt like I. couldn’t. move.  I had been sick for a few weeks and couldn’t snap out of it.   I didn’t know what to do, so I contacted a doctor friend of mine to see what she would suggest.  She lives about 45 minutes away but she said she could help me (has gone through it herself and has helped many women like me). 

Beginning of Diagnosis

After lots of paperwork and a lengthy interview (it is a gift to have a doctor who really cares and listens!), she began treating me according to my symptoms and as the result of many tests which gave clues as to what was going on with me:

Insulin resistance (the step before pre-diabetes), leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, vitamin D and B deficiencies, possibly an auto immune disease (maybe Hashimoto’s or Pernicious Anemia), environmental and food sensitivities.

After pigging out on my last box of Cheez-Its, I immediately began an allergy elimination diet: no dairy, no grains, no fruit (except lime and lemon), no nuts, no vinegar (I was taking Braggs apple cider vinegar daily, but she thought it might cause candida issues), no nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peas, potatoes, peppers, beans (except green), pimentos, paprika – there is a good post to explain this here.), no sweetener (not even stevia).  Doc said that anything that tastes sweet affects insulin, so that includes most fruit and even stevia.

You might ask, “What’s left?!”  The good news is that I could have: grass fed/antibiotic free meat, fish, most veggies, and healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, pure coconut milk/cream, olive oil). 

After a month of eating just the list I mentioned, I was able to begin adding in one food at a time.  Dr. Laura wanted me to introduce a food, wait three days (because there can be a delayed reaction) and reintroduce the food and wait another three days.  Assuming everything goes well, that adds up to one new food each week.  Knowing this wouldn’t be a quick fix, I asked Doc, “So will I be feeling much better in a few months?”  To which she replied, “A year and a half.”  God help me!!

Symptoms

Some friends ask, “What were your symptoms?”  It’s easier to say, “You name it!” because there were so many.  But, I will take time to list many of them right here and now:
  • Debilitating fatigue
  • Foggy brain (can’t think straight and feel like there is something blocking my brain)
  • Itchy rash over most of my body
  • Insatiable cravings for sugar and carbs
  • Sudden and uncharacteristic outbursts of anger (especially after I ate sugar and gluten) – most of the time I would leave the room or suppress it, but sometimes I yelled at my kids
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Dimming eye sight
  • My whole body ached most of the time
  • Nausea
  • Throbbing eyes
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Trouble breathing deeply
  • Irregular cycles
  • Fingernails falling apart
  • Barely able to keep up with basic household duties
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Apathy
  • Arthritic pain in my hands
  • Numbness at times in my hands and feet
  • Sharp pains in my chest
  • Headaches
  • Inability to remember things
  • Crying and feelings of hopelessness
  • Stomach pain and trouble digesting food
  • Three miscarriages
  • Inability to be in crowds of people for very long
  • Thinning hair
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dizziness
  • Acne
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Etc.

Over the past few years I had gone to doctors and had only been diagnosed as gluten sensitive.  I knew there was more wrong with me, but nobody could figure it out.  Dr. Laura ordered an extensive blood test, urine test, and stool test (still need to do the saliva test).  The reason she thinks that I may have an auto-immune disease is because my symptoms are common to it and because many of my symptoms fell into opposing categories: for example, I had some strong hypo-thyroid symptoms, as well as definite hyper-thyroid symptoms.

My Menu

The first two months were so hard, as I detoxed from sugar and tried to adjust to eating differently.  To give you an idea of what I eat, here is a list of what a few days of meals looks like for me:

B: bacon, yellow squash

L: Lettuce, leftover chicken, olive oil

S: Coconut chicken: Chicken baked with a can of coconut cream, ginger, cumin, coriander, salt … on top of spaghetti squash

B: Bacon, cauliflower, olive oil

L: Purple cabbage, sausage (I take a lb. of ground pork and add a tsp. of each: nutmeg, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt
)
S: Hamburger wrapped in lettuce with tomato, bacon, sweet potato fries

B: Sausage, canned asparagus, olive oil

L: Kale, bacon

S: Homemade spaghetti sauce (once I could eat tomatoes) over spaghetti squash

B: Spinach/arugula mix, chicken, olive oil

L: Tilapia, salad steamed veggies, o.o.

S: Ham, canned green beans, o.o., basil, oregano

B: X

L: Salmon, yellow summer squash, o.o., coconut oil

S: Chicken, tarragon, brussel sprouts, olive oil

B: Chicken, zucchini, avocado, tarragon

L: Pork chop, lettuce salad, olive oil with lime, tarragon

S: Sausage, acorn squash, coconut oil

I try to cook the same for my family, simply adding a pot of rice, noodles, or biscuits for them to enjoy.

Reintroductions

I’ve been able to add back in: macadamia nuts, blueberries, strawberries, and tomatoes.  Blessings!  I’ve had a bad reaction to eggs, almonds, and of course gluten.  I am VERY SAD about the eggs.  We get free-range organic eggs from an Amish farmer, and my body does not like them.  I’m still trying to accept this fact and be grateful for the foods I can eat.

Doc said it can take three months to get dairy out of your system, so on September 19th I will be able to try grass-fed butter.  PRAYING that it works for me.  If so, I will get to try goat cheese and then yogurt.  It would be lovely to be able to enjoy these foods, if God says it’s okay.

Blessings and Road Blocks

God helped me take the boys to VBS in July.  That was a huge praise!  Forty-five minutes drive twice a day – God helped me do it, plus play the piano three times each day.  But, while Tim and the boys were camping for a few days, I got violently ill and had to be taken to the ER by my neighbor.  We still don’t know what caused that problem.

And since then we’ve figured out that something in our church building might be making me sick.  One Sunday night on our way home, after spending most of the time in the church basement, I felt like I couldn’t move, couldn’t stop crying, and could barely talk.  Tim had to help me into the house to my bed.  If I spend much time in the basement it seems worse.  So, for right now I am staying upstairs in the church building. Sigh. 

God wants me to slow down and change some things.  We weren’t able to go to family camp, and for that matter we can’t go very far from home at all right now.  I don’t know what He’s doing, but I can trust that it is good.

While I have seen relief from many of my symptoms, at times I feel very depressed.  I don’t have as much energy as I hoped I would have at this point.  There are good days and bad days.  I’ve definitely spent more time studying and listening to God’s Word.  I’ve asked God to help me, and He has sent people to encourage, show they care, and pray with me and for me.  It means SO MUCH to have a friend call just to see how I’m doing. 

He has also helped me locate a Christ-centered program to help me deal with my mind: 21 Day Brain Detox. I so appreciate Dr. Leaf.  She has the science combined with God’s word to explain how to Romans 12:1-2 – renew your mind.

What I’ve Been Learning

1.  Food was my idol. I’m still trying to fill in the gap that has been left by withdrawing my time, energy, and excitement (and pleasure of tasting and eating) trying new recipes and cooking fancy delicacies for my family.  I’ve been spoiled, and it is extremely sad when I cannot go out to eat or even to an ice cream stand.  God has taken this out of my priority list so that He is nearer the top!  Food is very much tied to socializing in our culture.  I already knew this, but it stands out even more now. It is challenging to meet with people and always having to bring my own food.  There are only two restaurants that are safe for me to go to (with no risk of cross contamination). 

2.  There is so much about the body we don’t understand.  I also knew this, but since nutrition and health have been my hobby for a few years, I had read tons of books on the subject.  And through this process I’ve been learning so much and know I have only scratched the surface learning about God’s incredible creation.  How could anyone believe all this evolved?!

3.  Don’t fight what God is doing.  A couple nights ago I was in such turmoil during the night (typical, but it had been escalating).  God lovingly showed me that I was angry with Him about my health, about my food limitations, and a few other things.  It is, of course, sin, to accuse Him of doing to me what living in this world cursed by sin has done to my body and mind.  Once I confessed my anger and He forgave me, I felt relief and relaxation drench my soul.  God has allowed this for a reason – a very good reason.  He knows that I need this experience to grow.  I am so thankful I can trust Him to go through this with me.

4.  My body likes eating this way Once a month had passed and my metabolism switched to fat burning instead of carb burning, my weight began to drop.  In about nine weeks I had lost 17 lbs.  It feels so good to be where I’ve wanted to be weight-wise for years!  Doc said this is not uncommon once you figure out a person’s food sensitivities and heal their gut.  I’m hardly ever hungry (don’t have that “gotta eat something”  hanging over me all day long).  I no longer feel like I need to sleep after each meal (not that I did sleep after every meal, but I felt like it).  It is wonderful to be able to let go of the extra weight in my life (not just physical, but mental, emotional, social and spiritual!) and to have a more focused view on God and what is most important in life.

5. There are many worse things in the world, but this is hard.  Sometimes I feel like I am in a prison.  I can’t take a break.  I cannot have a once a day treat, or a once a week treat, or even a once a month treat!!!  The first month I felt like I could kill for a piece of chocolate cake.  Thankfully no one was maimed.  And God has been graciously adjusting my taste buds, so I rarely weep over where I find myself.  Also, I have to remember, this will get better.  But, I must get used to a new normal.  I will never go back to how I was eating before.  At least once a week I think ahead to the marriage feast of the Lamb – and I am going to savor every bite (when I get there, no doubt the importance of food will fade even more in His presence)!

6.  Love.  Tim and the boys know that I love them when I make food for them that I used to enjoy.  They have shown such love and compassion!  Sometimes they hug me when I can’t hold back the tears, like last night when they had buttered popcorn and frozen yogurt.  They hugged me and told me how much they love me.  And when we sat down to watch Facing the Giants I knew I was loved while I munched on my sweet potato and bacon (which, by the way, was very satisfying).

7.  It helps to laugh The other night I was in Barnes and Noble, pouring over the healthy cookbooks.  I felt like crying because there were still so many things in THOSE that I can’t eat.  A man sitting nearby was groaning audibly as he looked in several diabetes cookbooks.  At one point he cried out in despair, “Bean patte?!?”  When I came home and told Tim about it, he understandingly replied, “And you felt like saying to him, ‘I would love to have bean patte!’”  Sometimes when I feel so discouraged, it is as though Jesus puts His arms around me and gently reminds me, “Sara, I never got to eat pizza, ice cream, or chocolate either.”  And we laugh together – awww, He is such a comfort!

What Now?

For those of you who are going through much harder things, I am so sorry for what you are going through.  I do know that God has a plan for your life as well as mine, and we can trust Him!  Wouldn’t it be delightful to be able to get a diagnosis, pop a pill, and be all well?  Or maybe for you … to find a husband, to have a child, to see wayward family members come to Christ, to get relief from your grief, to get money to pay those bills, and be all better?  God is constantly using the struggles of life for one purpose: to draw us to Himself.  And when He has our attention we can either fight back and reject the priceless lessons He is trying to teach us, or accept and draw near to Him.

Today is the first time I’ve felt like writing in months – so, maybe this is a sign I am healing?  I hope that what I am writing makes sense.  I write to answer the many questions my small circle of family and friends have asked me, and in case my scribblings about all this may help someone in similar circumstances.

Please contact me if you would like information about resources.  I’d recommend you begin with the book Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg.  This book is informative and well documented.

I would love to hear from YOU.  And until next time … will you please enjoy a bowl of ice cream for me (better yet, pray for me)?

Joyfully His,
Sara

“My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart 
and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:26

In Her Shoes – Child of My Heart

This month weare privileged to step into the shoes of five sisters in Christ who graciously share their adoption adventure with us.  Each God-weaved story is a beautiful example of God’s love for each of us.  So, sit back, relax, open your heart, and see what God will do through this article in your life.

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5 

Our Miracle Boys

by Joy Meinders

I have had a newborn three ways: private adoption, giving birth and foster care. With all three, the bond of motherly love I felt was identical. It is definitely natural to love a newborn.

Our first adoption was through a Christian agency. It took us 7 years to complete the process:  two years for our home study, another three years to save the funds, then “next on the list” for another two years. During this time, my prayers for a child would increase then decrease. It seemed impossible at times. Also, I felt very guilty for thinking that another mom should hand me her child. Our adoption worker would counsel me that she had made choices that placed her in this situation … that had nothing to do with me.

When we finally received news of a birth mother, we were ecstatic! I could hardly believe my dream of becoming a mom was going to come true. I can’t put into words adequately, the joy and grief (for the birth mom) as we watched her put a precious son in our car. It was the regulations of the hospital. Everyone was crying and I kept asking our adoption worker how would she ever be ok. He just kept saying, “By the grace of God.” It was an incredible joy to be a mom to my angel baby. He was such a good baby, and is very loving and gentle still.

Three years later, I gave birth to another miracle baby. (I know, they all are!). It was several years later that a friend, on Right-To-Life Sunday challenged us-if you are pro-life, what are you going to do about it. The answer will be different for everyone. I started praying, not knowing that my husband had also. God directed both of us, separately, to pray about becoming foster parents, with adopting a possibility.

While going through our foster parenting classes, a guest speaker came in and told us, “You are the guardian of the bond.” I have always loved that saying. If we’d allow the children to bond to us, and they moved on, it would aid in their bonding capabilities in the future. We saw this firsthand with the first baby we fostered. She is completely bonded with her family. By doing this, when they leave, it tears your heart, but God repairs your heart and allows you to continue in His strength, doing what He has for you.

When praying for our next placement (while fostering), we earnestly prayed for children and knew if God placed them with us and there became a time for adoption, that was from God. Well, God placed two little, neglected and traumatized boys in our home. Overnight, our house changed dramatically. Screaming ensued and continued for months. It is very difficult to bond and stay committed to boys with endless screaming!

I would call my husband at work and tell him I couldn’t do it. He would pray with me and tell me that we’d talk about it when he got home and if they needed a different family, that was ok. He got home and helped, shared his peace and strength, we’d pray together, etc. and I would think, “Ok, this is from God, we can do this.” Then, he’d go to work the next day…repeat! I just had to come to the place where I realized, just because God didn’t answer how I thought He should, doesn’t mean He didn’t answer. He did, and He will give me the strength to continue and stay committed to nurturing and growing the bonds with the boys.

Our two older kids were so encouraging to me. My oldest would say, “Aren’t you glad we have the boys? I’m so glad they are here.” They were both very helpful also.

On the other side, bonding for the boys to us also continues. I praise God the worker could see that they were so bonded to each other, she didn’t separate them. One boy was ignored by adults from 2 weeks old on. One would go with anyone, without fear or realizing he shouldn’t. The first time our littlest one cried when we left him (a definite different cry from his others), we were thrilled. He was beginning to bond. When my five year old will look at my eyes, I am thankful for that growth of seeing him bond.

One of the hardest things was that I didn’t “feel” the bond like a mom feels with her children. (This led to more tears than I can say.). It also brought feelings in me of not being bonded to my older kids. It was such a stretching time that I felt broken. However, once I decided, with God’s help, to be committed to be their mom, the bonds started to grow. They are still growing, and I pray they won’t stop. Also, my bonds with my older kids and husband are stronger than ever.

One of the most growing times was when God specifically convicted me of a sin area, brought scripture and I repented, the change in my heart resulted in a deeper bond with my boys. Nothing yet in them changed, but God changed me. This definitely is like our relationship with The Lord. When He gives us a trial or an answer we don’t want, we can resist it and become angry or we can decide to trust, follow and grow through it. Our bonds with Him will increase abundantly. That trial will turn into a blessing!!

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

 

 

Adoption in the Midst of Heartbreak

by Sarah Heywood

God planted the seed of adoption in my heart as a young girl.  I never forgot that, although there would be many periods in my life where I was convinced that God wasn’t necessarily behind the desire; it was simply one of those wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if thoughts.

But God kept working at my heart into adulthood.  Despite being married and a busy, homeschooling mom of four sons (including one with multiple special needs) I never forgot that call God had placed upon my heart as a girl.

When my youngest son was two, I began to sense a renewed stirring in my heart towards the idea of adding to our family through adoption.  We really thought our family was complete, though.  In fact, I had suffered a small stroke after the birth of the last baby and doctors had told us our family had better be complete!  The recovery from that stroke took a long while and I could not believe it when I realized that God was speaking to me about adoption!  Didn’t He realize all I had going on already?

I gave God a long list of reasons why adoption at this point in my life was a really, really bad idea.  God said nothing, but quietly continued to work on heart.  Finally, in frustration, I told the Lord that if He wanted us to pursue adoption He would need to give me a clear sign.  I would be completely mum on the subject and my husband would have to approach me about the idea.  I knew he was perfectly happy with our four so I didn’t really anticipate that ever happening.  But if it did, well, then I would have my answer!

Nine months later my husband, Paul, and I were enjoying a date night.  Midway through our meal, he paused, looked at me, and asked, “So, what do you think about the idea of adopting?”  I guess God had given me my sign!

Still, I was frightened.  It took several months of prayer before I finally came to a complete place of surrender and willingness to pursue adding to our family.  Once I got there, though, the doors began to fly open.

Paul and I ended up pursuing adoption through our state’s foster care system.  Initially, when thinking about adoption, foster care was the last way I wanted to do it because of the many horror stories I had heard over the years.  But yet, once I was completely surrendered to whatever God was doing in our family, I found I was no longer as worried about which adoption direction we took.  At the same time, though, I knew with an absolute certainty that we were walking into pain.  How I knew that, I can’t say, but I do remember feeling quite peaceful despite that knowledge.  God was leading and we were following Him, no matter where that would take us.

We took the required classes and were licensed in January of 2012.  Then, came the waiting for THE call!  That finally came five months later.  We were ecstatic! Two little sisters, nearing the end of their time in foster care needed a forever family.  The night before I was to pick them up, I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited!  The next morning we picked up two frightened, small, little girls and instantly fell in love.  Well, maybe not instantly.  I wanted to love them right away, but truthfully, that love took awhile to grow.

We definitely had a period of adjustment ahead of us! I had a three year old who was mad at the world and seemed to delight in finding ways to make her new mom explode in anger. She was absolutely determined that nobody would tell her what she could and could not do!  My eleven-month old was solemn and outwardly compliant, but it wasn’t until later that her real personality began to emerge and we realized just how traumatized she had come to us.

Parenting the girls was really hard at first.  I would make slow progress and then we’d have a required visit with Birth Mom which would inevitably undo some of the work I had done. It seemed like overnight my work load doubled around the house.  Many times I was cranky with the kids when I should have been rejoicing at how God had blessed me.  But, thankfully, He was working despite my many failings.

As the months wore on, things really began to fall into place.  My one year old made it clear that I was her mama now.  My now-four year old, began to call me “Mom” and we began to see improvements in her behavior.  Paul loved his little girls and they delighted in having a daddy.  My sons began to treat their new sisters as real siblings, rather than just some short, visiting strangers.  Birth Mom had her rights terminated and I began to hesitantly call the girls by the new names Paul and I had picked.  To my surprise, they seemed to prefer the new names!

I remember wondering, “Where is the pain?”  Despite bumps here and there, everything really seemed to be coming together.  That pain I was so sure awaited was nowhere to be found.

It would come, but when it did it would take a form that I had no way of anticipating.

In June 2013 we were eagerly waiting for an adoption date.  While our girls had been the daughters of our heart for some time, it was exciting to anticipate the day that they would also be legally ours.  On the night of June 5th, Paul went to sleep and a half hour later woke up in the arms of Jesus.  He was dead at the age of forty-two after suffering a seizure in sleep.

It’s only been nine months since that night.  The grief is still pretty raw at times.  I know that someday I’ll probably have a lot I can say about single parenthood.  Right now, I am simply breathing in and out as I walk through each day.  I am so grateful for the loving care of my Heavenly Father who has carried me through this heartbreak.

Despite Paul’s death, the state allowed me to keep the girls.   I was so incredibly thankful that God allowed us to stay together!  Three months later it was a bittersweet day, as my six children and I met in a court room and listened as a judge declared that Elizabeth and Eleanor were now my legal daughters.  I am quite confident that God rolled back the floor of Heaven that morning and Paul was able to witness the fruition of the dream He had planted in both our hearts!

Raising my children alone is a task for which I feel very ill-equipped.  But I have every confidence that God will walk me through, as He has in every other challenging circumstance in my life.

I had to take the stand the morning of the adoption.  One of the lawyers for the state asked me why I felt I should be allowed to adopt these little girls.  I wasn’t expecting that question.  I thought for a moment and then leaned forward and spoke into the microphone:  I said, “These girls may have been born to a different woman, but they were created to be MY children.”

And that is the truth.  Today, I marvel at God’s persistency in directing Paul and I to pursue adoption when we thought our arms were already full.  God knew what awaited and in His goodness He longed to provide me with the comfort that would come in the form of two, small little girls.

“Being confident of this, that He Who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6

 

How God Opened My Heart and Home

by Diann Pearson

Our story of adoption is a little different. Most seek to adopt a baby or child and want to know if it is God’s plan.  In our situation God wanted us to adopt a certain little boy and wanted to know if we were willing to submit to His plan.

It all started while I was working one day a month at a care center. A lady I worked with asked me if I could babysit her little boy. Without a prayer, I said, “ No, I am way too busy with my husband gone a lot trucking, taking care of the home, homeschooling our four children and being active in my church.”

She came and ask a second time that night. When she walked away I prayed, Lord if you want me to do this have her come one more time which she did. That’s when Jake first entered our lives.

I babysat him and had him often in the beginning.  He enjoyed coming to church with us on Sundays and Wednesdays . We would pick him up even when we weren’t babysitting him. As he got older we didn’t see him as much, due to other things he was involved in. Then we heard that Jake’s mother had died and Jake was in foster care.

We had concerns about his birth family adopting him.  And before, Jake’s mother had said if anything ever happened to her, she wanted us to take Jake. We talked with Deptartment of Human Services to express our interest in adopting Jake. They were glad we showed interest but told us that his uncle and wife were interested (and would be considered first), along with the birth father and his grandmother.

Even though we were fourth in line to be considered, we felt compelled to take steps toward adoption. We took foster care classes which included: providing a profile with a snap shot of each family member, home inspection, pictures of where his room would be, have our water tested, animals vaccinated, etc. The Lord went before, causing us to take the 40 hours of class in Cedar Rapids instead of waiting until spring to do it in Iowa City (which down the road allowed us to have him in our home as foster parents, because we were certified).

He was stable in our home for a year, which looked good to the courts. During that time his father released his rights and the court declared us to be a more suitable home than with the grandmother, which was Jake’s desire also.

We were thankful that Jake was younger than our children, due to older siblings teaching the younger. We felt it was important that our children all agreed with the plan of adoption before proceeding. We didn’t want them later on to say, “We never wanted to do this.” I wanted them to understand that he would receive all the same rights and privileges as they received. Even the inheritance, if there is any. It is wonderful having God go before us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Whose Need Are You Fulfilling?

by Mary Kamberger

Let me first introduce myself as an adoptive mother to seven of my nine children. Our eldest was domestically adopted in 1986. We then received two biological children in 1992 and 1994. The other six children came to us through China as waiting/special needs children between September 2004 and December 2009.

We enfolded six children into our family in just over five years, and all were in some way, physically challenged as was listed on their paperwork. They, however, also came with various emotional and mental challenges that were not listed on any piece of paper. Although I am an RN by trade, I am a stay at home mom by choice who home schools all the children. Our children from China came home at the ages of 14 months to 14 years, and they are now 10 to 18 years.

The adoption of a child into any human family can be seen as a comparison of our adoption into God’s family in many ways, but the points I would like to stress here are only a few. First of all, consider where the NEED lies. God does not adopt us because He NEEDS us. Likewise, we adoptive parents should not step into adoption because we NEED the child to complete us, our family, or our own personal need to love and nurture.

I would say that most, if not all, adoptive parents have an overabundance of love and ability to nurture, or they wouldn’t be stepping into an adoption. And many see that over time, this adopted child does, in some way, complete them and their family. BUT, to walk into an adoption with this in mind is to miss the true need.

The only NEED that should take center stage is the need of the child. Just like within our relationship to God the only thing we bring to the table is our NEED. God supplies all the rest: grace, mercy, healing, love, forgiveness. That is our position in adoption, too. We, as the parents, are to supply all that is needed within the heart and life of that child…and be prepared to receive nothing in return.

When the child rejects us, pushes us away, screams that we are NOT their “real” mother or father, hits, punches, is totally cold to any emotional overtures we offer, is not on track for their age – academically, emotionally, physically – when they act out in inappropriate ways, hurt our other children or animals, deliberately do their best to hurt us emotionally, physically and mentally, WE…like God…should be ready to absorb it, deal with it, and CHOOSE to LOVE in the midst of it. Let me state that point again:  we must CHOOSE (regardless of wanting to or feeling like it) – to choose to continue to love that child in the midst of their utter defiance and unacceptance of us.

Didn’t God do this, and continue to do this, for us? Adoption is not warm and fuzzy. Adoption is not for the faint hearted. Our spiritual adoption into God’s family came at a VERY high price – Christ’s very blood pouring out His life for us on the cross.

If you are considering the adoption of a child, be fully prepared to pour out your very life for that child. The cost of adoption is high – monetarily high at the very beginning and emotionally, physically, and mentally high for the rest of your days. The very fabric of your family will be changed each time you bring another child in. There is no staying the same, and nothing that promises next year will be any better.

{Now aren’t you simply just ready to JUMP into adoption?!}

Bringing the child home is only the beginning of a very long road to health and learning to live as family. Just like when you are welcomed into God’s family, you are not fully sanctified as His child. We are positionally secure in the love of God but have a long way to grow into our completed sanctification. Each child SHOULD be positionally secure in the assurance of their place within your family, even though they (and you) have a long way to grow as parent and child. Unconditional love is a high price and of absolute necessity within the act of adoption.

Biological children are wonderful, but let’s be honest – not everyone actually chooses to become pregnant and birth a child. “Whoops! children” are born…and too often simply aborted…every day.  Adoption, however, is a conscious, paper-filled, emotionally arduous act of choosing to love another no matter what….no matter their skin color, their health, their future academic potential, their unknown emotional or mental baggage, their inability to love us in return.

Please be ever so wise, with eyes and hands wide open, with no personal agenda in tow IF you so CHOOSE to meet the NEED of a child that is fatherless. Your reward will be great and the Father of all will be there to guide and uphold you every step of the way.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

“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.”
James 1:27

 

Adoption: A Picture of God’s Love

Anonymous

My hubby and I adopted a little boy. I’m not going to bore you with the details of the actual adoption (though I am enamored with our miracle and the unique way God delivered him to us). I am normally fairly open about certain details. But, I hold back that which is too near to me or hurts too much to think or talk about.  However, I’d like to be able to be honest and candid about a few things – so I’d like to remain anonymous.  And what better way to do that than guest writing for the blog of a friend. So here goes.
A few things to remember about adoption:

1.) It is Biblical.   It is a beautiful picture of our relationship with God through Christ. The more I study the Bible, the more I am convinced that God gave us what He did here on earth, in the color and diversity that He did, so we would have better capacity to understand what He wanted us to know from Scripture. We can’t fully understand our relationship with our Heavenly Father if we look only at biological relationships. Do you know someone who has been involved in an adoption?  There are, no doubt, countless ways God, in His love and sovereignty, wants you to learn from that situation. I am positive that one of them is so you can better imagine how it looks when God adopts us into His family. What a blessed thing. God is so creative and so good to us.
2.) It is Sensitive.   Chances are, if the people you know aren’t volunteering information, they’d probably rather not share. Their silence may be an oversight, but it probably isn’t. Especially if the events are current or very recent (which means it’s on their minds often and they’re not talking about it on purpose). If you want to love them, don’t ask for “the story.” Ask them how you can pray for them – sure – of course they need support and they would likely really appreciate it coming from you.
3.) Remember though, we all come into contact with many people – many good, loving, God-honoring people – but that doesn’t mean every secret is meant for every relationship. Don’t take it personally if someone’s best-guarded secrets aren’t meant for you. Give them some space and love them in the most obvious way you can. Always be kind and pray. Sometimes you may get to do more. But don’t push it.
4.) I, personally, am much more apt to share “the story” with someone who has had ample opportunity to ask for it and never has asked. And then it’s only if the time and my emotions are right. Maybe I’m atypical here, but I’m guessing not. [There are probably points in this one that would work for far more situations than just that of adoption.]
5.) It Hurts.   Oh. So. Much.  I will venture a fairly firm guess that no adoption ever happens without a fair amount of pain somewhere along the way – for at least one, if not both, of the parties (the adopt-er/ the adopt-ee). And normally it’s both. The child who is to be adopted had a situation. Sometimes it’s fairly neutral, sometimes it’s downright ugly. Normally it’s somewhere in between. Lots of times there will be hurts that will have to be dealt with. A little person with more pain than his years should allow. And even if the child doesn’t remember specifics, one day he will very likely wonder. Or he might deal with tendencies and emotions that confuse him. He can’t quite put his finger on why he feels xyz but he does.

And then there are the adoptive parents. Sometimes adoptive parents adopt because it’s their “first choice.” For whatever reason God gave them a desire to adopt and they followed it. No infertility, no miscarriage(s), no opportunity to watch a child suffer in need. That happens sometimes, of course. On a first child, on a last child, anywhere in the middle. I know of families like these. These families still have challenges but much of the hurt comes from the adopted child and his history and family growing pains – not necessarily a primary loss for the parents too.

But, for many families adoption was considered when something didn’t go “right.” I AM NOT saying that adoption is second rate. We who trust in the absolute seignty of God know that what might not be our first plan for ourselves is still God’s best for us. The little boy I’m raising – the one who calls me “mommy,” and needs me more than he does anyone else – is God’s best for me. I see it when I look at him and I remind myself often. I love him like I’d love someone I made (I think. I hope.).

But, don’t for a minute think that my knowing these things erases all traces of anger, frustration, doubt and insecurity in my mind. I lost his beginning. I didn’t get to make him. When I go to stuff with him, don’t think I don’t notice that I’m the only mommy who bears no resemblance to her child. I am not an Angelina Jolie wannabe. I can’t make a baby.

When my girlfriends talk about morning sickness and episiotomies and mastitis, all things any right-minded woman would love to scrape by without, well, I missed those things and I don’t feel lucky. I’m not part of the club and likely never will be. I love my son, but sometimes when I look at him something screams inside me “He’s not even yours!” I chase that out of my head as soon as I can, but I know it. It’s there, and to a degree it’s real.

Add to that the shame of even having those thoughts (when you say you trust God and you say you love your son). It’s complicated. It hurts. It isn’t easy. Maybe it’ll get easier with time. I guess we’ll see. We may be smiling (as we should! And we want to!) but we struggle. Each struggle is unique but it’s there.

4.) It is Amazing.   It’s positively beautiful. Without it I wouldn’t have my son or the possibility of other future children. Without it my family would be missing a member who I truly believe God designed for our family – even if He didn’t let me (us) make him. Without it I wouldn’t be Mama, and that’s the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to be. The benefits well outweigh the costs. This point deserves much more attention, but I’ve already talked a lot…
As you encounter those who are directly affected by adoption …

  • Be sensitive.
  • Love them selflessly.
  • Pray for them – specifically that God will use this most-sanctifying life event to make everyone involved into more of an image of Christ.
  • Look for ways you can speak truth in love, if you see a Biblical issue that needs addressing and prayerfully feel burdened to do so. Think about what you are saying to them about this sensitive issue. Sometimes people say things so flippantly and with no intention to harm and those are the comments that linger the longest and cut the deepest.

We (as “adoption people”) need to develop an measure of “thick skin” because everyone’s soft spots are a little different so we need to be careful not to be over sensitive, but you (who interact with us and may not always understand) need to be careful with your words. May we all look for ways to magnify God and His attributes as we consider this amazing gift that touches us all in some way.

A few verses that encourage me regularly and how specifically they can relate to my adoption journey:

 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 

My body can’t give me a child, but God in His grace and strength found a way to give me what and who He wanted me to have.

 

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 

 

I know, without a doubt, that all of the events surrounding my need/desire to adopt, the process itself, and the heartache along the way are one of God’s biggest sanctifying measures in my life until now.

 

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

When the emotions are overwhelming, slowing down and focusing on God’s character is something that has given me great peace and the courage to press on when I wanted to quit (and I did consider quitting…a lot).

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or imagine…” Ephesians 3:20

  This is my son. God created this little person so perfectly for our family – it literally blows my mind. He couldn’t have been more perfect for us if we could have given him our DNA. He is more than I ever could have asked or imagined. Thank you, Lord, r the gift of Your Son and the gift of mine.

 

Resources:

Thank you, Sisters!!

 

The Great I AM Still Is

I’m confused . . .
 
I AM intimately involved.  Listen to Me and believe.  I AM in charge of the knowns and unknowns.

I feel alone . . .

I AM always right beside you.  You are exactly where you need to be. Talk to Me.  I AM listening.

I’m hurting . . .

I AM your true Friend.  Deflect your pain to Me.  I AM working on every detail right now.

My life is cluttered . . .

I AM holy, organized, beautiful.  Look at Me.  Dwell in Me.  I AM your eternal peaceful retreat.

I’m needy . . .

I AM able.  I know your need and I AM always right on time.  If I AM not meeting it, it is not a true need at the moment (or I AM working a bigger plan.)

My heart is aching . . .
    
I AM the Healer of broken hearts and the Calmer of storms.  Rest in Me.  I want to hold you.

I’m afraid . . .
    
I AM peace.  Reject the lie that anything is bigger than Me. You are safe with Me.

I don’t like the way things are . . .

I AM Your everything.  Gaze past the temporal to the eternal.  Embrace Me.  I never disappoint.

I’m battle weary . . .

I AM your Protector, My darling.  Relax. Rest in Me.   Let Me put My armor on you.  Stay close.  I have already won the war.

I’m stained . . .

I AM your Redeemer.  The price is paid.  Forgiven.  You are clean in My eyes.  Press on.

I’m crying . . .

I AM crying with you.  I understand earth pain.  What you are going through will not be wasted. Very soon – no more tears, forever.

I’m tempted . . .

I AM the best.  If only you knew how much I love you, you would never interrupt our blissful moments with a useless and dangerous idol.

I’m discouraged . . .

I AM real and I AM strong.  Discouragement is one of Satan’s favorite tools.  I AM closer to you than breathing.  Take My hand and we’ll go through it together.

 Our story has a happy ending. I promise.         

. . . . . . .

“And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ And He said, ‘Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’'” Exodus 3:14

“Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.'” John 8:58

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’” Isaiah 41:10



What are your favorite Scripture passages that speak these truths of God?  Please share!




Autumn Reflections

Last Sunday afternoon we drove to a nearby park to take in the autumn splendor. One son was at a birthday party, so we took the opportunity to enjoy an adventure with our four-year-old. In the middle of the park is a twenty-seven acre lake. It beckoned and we followed.

This lake is unique because of the seven bridges, some over 100 years old, which were transplanted from various locations around our state. 

One bridge stood out to me. I was surprised to discover that the bridge’s original purpose was to be the support structure for the top of a building.   Because it didn’t meet specifications, the builders threw it away. Later on it was discovered by someone with a vision for what it could be. If this bridge had a brain, it never would have imagined ending up here. God knew that this bridge wasn’t a mistake! He allowed a man to find and place it in this majestic setting.

As we approached the bridge and followed it from beginning to end, we were impressed by it’s rustic beauty. We were very grateful for the bridge’s help as it made it possible for us to walk all the way around the lake. Yet, the focus of our attention and praise was not the bridge. We were captivated by the incredible beauty of God’s creation all around us.

The bridge originally destined for the top of a building

These bridges remind me of how God works in my life.   My dreams sometimes clash with reality. God created me for different roles in life, and sometimes He uproots me to a different location. I cry, “But, I thought you wanted me to be here, to do this!”   He lovingly carries me, reassembling me in my new place of service. And miraculously, to me, I fit into His plan.

And my imperfect past was not a mistake.  God used people, places, and Himself to make me who He wants me to be.  He can use me wherever He places me.  And I will not be here alone – He promises to stay with me all the time.  Like the bridge, my purpose is not to captivate people, bringing attention to myself.  I am part of what helps make it possible for people to see God.
This autumn has been one of the prettiest in recent years. The colors feed my spirit. The crisp breeze, warmed by the Indian Summer sun, nourishes my soul. In the midst of this beauty my weary heart cannot help but smile. At times I feel insecure during life’s constant state of transition.  This is what keeps me depending on God instead of myself.  As I take my hurts and disappointments to my Savior, He promises to comfort and bless.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
Are you grieving a life that is different than what you had hoped it would be? Are you confused about what God is doing in your family, schedule, body, job, church, etc.?  Grieving is not wrong. It is part of the way God made us. But, our grieving must not keep us from moving ahead with God. He hears the cries of our hearts, He understands, and He is working what is best. He can be trusted.
As for God, His way is perfect; the word of the Lord is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.” Psalm 18:30
Father God, please help us to be thankful for where You have placed us, and may our lives help others see You in all Your splendor.

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14