Monday, July 21, 2014

She Wants to Adopt. Her Husband Doesn't.

One of the great joys Seamus and I have been given through our adoption is being able to encourage and pray for other families. It is a privilege when someone contacts us saying they would like to discuss adoption. We pray for these opportunities to answer questions and encourage. We have seen hearts change through our own process. We've had the honor of sharing tears with people who have also been called to adopt. We praise God that He uses ordinary people like us to help carry out His great work.

I received a FB message from a sweet acquaintance last week. She wanted to chat about adoption. I called her the next day and was eager to listen. I was so excited to hear that she knows in the depth of her soul that God has convicted her to adopt an orphan in need. I got chills hearing the passion in her voice. If you've adopted, you know the passion. It's the same feeling we biological mamas have when we long to have our own newborn. I've had the privilege of knowing both desires and I know the joy and the pain this desire brings. My friend shared that her heart has been burdened for years. But.

Her husband doesn't want to adopt. He doesn't understand her desire and can't connect to the idea of bringing an adopted child in to their home. Her husband is a kind man. He loves his wife and they have cried together over this issue. He wants to support her. He wants to "fulfill her need". But his heart hasn't been softened for this ministry. "If you want another baby, why don't we just try to have another of our own?" (Sigh from sweet friend) "I could have 10 babies and still want to GO, to adopt."

I have been burdened for this family and am honored to be praying for them now. There are so many couples who are on different pages when it comes to adoption. And here's my response to them. It's okay. Sometimes our desires are not God's desires. And when God desires something for our lives, make no mistake about it. It will happen. He will change hearts. The Holy Spirit loves to convict souls to carry out God's will. God has a plan for our lives and it may or may not include adoption. We can rest knowing that God's plan for our life is perfect. It can still be painful, especially when you feel the calling to adopt IS from God. So, what can we tangibly do when our hearts burn but our spouses aren't on board?

First and foremost, pray. Pray for your spouse during your own quiet time. Surrender your desire and anxieties to Christ. Pray with your spouse. Ask God not only to soften his heart for adoption but to open your eyes to what God might be doing in your own life. Listen through prayer and scripture reading. Maybe God will answer your prayers by changing your husband's heart. Maybe he'll lead you down a totally different path that glorifies Him nonetheless. Ask God what He wants for your life together. When Seamus and I pray for God to use us however he sees fit, The Lord does crazy things. Adopting a baby from China and homeschooling our 4th grader. Y'all. Never in a million years did I think these 2 things would really happen but it was God's plan. We just listened and answered, "Yes!" (Okay, I'm still fighting Him over the homeschooling thing but that's another story) He. Will. Provide.

I'm torn over what I'm about to share. I'm not torn over my feelings, just whether or not to share them. Many Christians would like me to stop here. Pray. That's it. There's nothing wrong with relying wholly on prayer. However, I do think that God sometimes uses us to "encourage" others. Yes, I'm tip-toeing. Let me take a step back for one second...

As you know, Seamus and I weren't convicted at the same time. Most couples aren't. God began working on me years ago, around the time our 3rd child was born (he's 4 years old now). How I was convicted is another story (I'm sure it's in a post here somewhere). I never wanted to talk Seamus into adoption. I knew both of our hearts had to be in it. Adoption is obviously not a decision to be taken lightly. But I also knew that if we weren't at least having conversations, little could happen. I promised myself (and God) that I wouldn't get frustrated or impatient with my husband. So I talked. And listened. I shared some articles and stories of encounters I had. Seamus listened and believe it or not, I never pushed. Until one day, after a lot of prayer and tears, he opened up. He was not convicted because of anything I said or shared. He was convicted because the Holy Spirit convicted him. Period.

All that to say that it doesn't hurt to share some blogs and articles with your honey. ;) Just don't have any expectations. One site that I shared with my friend is a great BLOG written by a Christian man, whose family has adopted (after much reluctance). In fact, there's a link on the right side of his page, "Reluctant Husband Syndrome". Ha! He has written 16 posts there that walk through his journey of "reluctantly" adopting. His wife also writes her own BLOG. Good stuff. I also love to recommend an excellent book by Russell D. Moore, titled Adopted for Life. Considering adoption or not, please just go ahead, click on that link and order it now. Seriously amazing book, y'all. For ANYONE.   

Another great thing for a couple to consider is sponsoring an orphan in need. Emily Hope was sponsored by families before we even knew who she was. Their monthly gift provided her with food, diapers, and medicine that Harmony Outreach was able to secure for her, thanks to these sponsorships. Wouldn't it be a neat first step to sponsor a child while you pray about adoption? Or, how about a mission trip for a week to love on kids in an orphanage? Life. Changing. You will never come home the same. Only a heart of stone wouldn't be changed by one of these visits. We may not all feel called to adopt but scripture is clear that we are all commanded to care for the fatherless. Sponsoring a child or going on a mission trip would be a great way to do this, all while being in prayer over the possibility of adopting. Please let me know if you'd like more information about specific ministries where you can sponsor a child or travel to an orphanage.

Last but not least, love your spouse deeply. Thank God that He has softened your heart for adoption but lavish your husband with grace and patience. Continue to respect him as the head of your household. Praise God if he "comes around" but if he doesn't, praise God anyway! “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2Cor.2:9) His grace is enough. Be satisfied in Him (Christ), and you will in turn be satisfied with him (your husband). Love your hubby the way Christ loves His church.
Her heart is beautiful and vulnerable and God is working mightily in her. I trust that He is also working in her husband as well. They may come to a point where they agree to adopt. If this happens, it will only be the work of God in them. If God doesn't change his heart, we can't be disappointed. This couple loves The Lord and our faithful God will work in their lives however He sees fit. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD." (Isaiah 55:8) God knows what He's doing, I promise. There are days I get frustrated. I want everyone to understand how close adoption is to God's heart. But my frustration demonstrates my impatience and skepticism of the very God I preach about. Do I doubt His goodness? He. Is. Faithful. Who am I to say His plan is ever thwarted by our apathy? Maybe it is. But that's for Him to decide and convict over. Don't get me wrong... I will continue to advocate for the orphan and beg you to GO. ;) Just saying if it's His will, it'll happen.

So to my sweet friend on the other end of the phone...
Pray. Trust Him. Be patient. These are not easy things for us to do but they are the only things that bring true joy.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

There is no Tomorrow

I'm not promised tomorrow. I'm not even promised another breath. Each one is a gift from above, God's grace in it's simplest form. My response to each breath taken... Thank you. Thank you for today. Thank you for this moment. How can I honor Him with the moments he has given me? That's our purpose in life. To know Him and once we do, to honor Him. Because when you know Him, the desire to honor is inevitable. I want to spend my life thanking Him for His amazing grace.

I'm restless. I know there is a season for everything. There is a season to wait on The Lord. I wait for Him to lead me. Still, I'm restless. We've only been home with Emily for 3 months. I've also taken on the daunting task of homeschooling my oldest son next year. Add in my career as a bookkeeper. Wife. Mother of 4. I am fully aware of the responsibility God has entrusted me with. I have a firm grasp on the fact that my mission field is, first and foremost, in my home. But I have a tendency to use that as an excuse. I shouldn't hide within my walls and ignore the hurting and lost who God craves to save. Naive? Maybe. But there's a reason He puts this fire in me. I don't know where he's leading us next. But my heart aches for the orphan and I am commanded to care for them. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." (James 1:27) We are all called to care for them. "Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow." (Isaiah 1:17)

I yearn to honor Him in all that I do. Then ... Reality strikes. I get in the way. My flesh, my sin, my inherent state. My fears, my doubts, my "what if"s. All of it stops me from devoting myself completely in gratitude. I must remind myself. There is no tomorrow. There is only today. Only this breath. And this one breath is only mine because He has given it. We must remind each other. If you are a lover of Christ, I implore you. Give thanks for the breath you are taking at this moment and transform that gratitude in to life-changing, God-glorifying, gospel-living.

What are we afraid of? Why aren't we sharing the good news with the lost? Why have I only adopted one child of the millions who cry themselves to sleep every night? Why can't we welcome a foster child who needs a temporary home? Why aren't we fighting for justice within our own country, against the genocide (the killing of millions of babies through abortion) that we fund with God's money? Why haven't I visited any of the prisons that are so close to my home? These souls are ripe to be picked for freedom! Why haven't I reached out, on a deeper level, to the precious widows in my own church family?

When I ask myself these questions, my answer is a resounding, "AMEN!" but I take little action. Wanna' know what I'm afraid of? Maybe I'll have to go without one of my many luxuries. I'd really miss lavish vacations or even my nap. I don't know where to start. Maybe I'll fail and everyone will say "I told you so." Maybe my family will oust me. Maybe a foster child would "mess up" my children's lives. People will think I'm a crazy "holy roller". Maybe I'll die if I go there. Here's what I have to say to each of those fears that I hold so close... So? Seriously. So what?

Laura... Friends... death to self is a privilege. "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:25) Anything that leads to eternal life in Christ is worth sacrificing. One of my favorite pastors, Tim Keller, reminded me recently, "You. Will. Miss. Nothing." Nothing. There is nothing on this earth that's worth keeping. Nothing. Not my wealth. Not my education. Not my appearance. Not my health. Not even my family. Yes, Christ even comes before the precious souls in my home. Hands down. Everything I want on this earth will be fulfilled in heaven a million times bigger and better. I know this. So who cares about my comfort or my standing with people while I am here? I am the royal daughter of God himself and that is one fine crown I'll be wearing in glory! Radical? Nah. Not when we realize who Christ is and what He did for us.  

What if we really believed that there is no tomorrow? What would your today look like? Mine would look incredibly different than it actually does. I would get the heck outta' suburbia America. I would be on the next plane to the most horrific orphanage I could find (and they are not hard to find) and I would cradle every child in my arms at one time and I would pray. I would kiss cheeks, and rub backs, and tell the good news, and cry, and pray some more. My day would be rich. It would be meaningful. And it would please God.

This is where I say, "I'm not saying be reckless and drop everything to serve The Lord." Except I'm not gonna' say that. If you are my brother, I expect you to encourage me to "take up my cross" to follow Christ. That looks different in every one's life but nonetheless, should always look radical from the world's perspective. "Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory." (Colossians 3:1)

Sin. Unfathomable grace to cover that sin. Gratitude. Gratitude so deep that it leads to action. Action that honors Christ, action that tells who He is. Take action. Not for merit (you can't earn that with God), rather out of gratitude for all He has already done on your behalf. When the fear sets in, focus on the kingdom ahead. The doubts that creep in... those are lies told to us by this world and the enemy. Stay focused on truth. Love deeply. Trust Him. There is no tomorrow. What does your today look like?

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." (Phil.4:8-9)