Category: family

journey to Gloria (pt 1)

Conventional wisdom says to keep the birth order–that means your oldest biological child remains your oldest and follow suit down the line. And generally adopting babies is “easier” so that fits the paradigm for the most part. But throughout my adoption journey I’ve just had a soft spot for older children–my mom was adopted when she was 8 or 9; my favorite book series in elementary school was The Elizabeth Gail series which were stories about a 13 year old girl being adopted into a family. But I was hesitant to start adopting older children now–Matthew is my firstborn and I couldn’t imagine adding someone to our family who was older than him. But I would have been fine with a child between Matthew and Kyler. 


At each step of this journey God has challenged me to rest in HIS plan for our family. While Doug and I were beginning to decide when/where we wanted to adopt, my sister Amy met a little girl named Brenda. And Brenda has a very sad story, as many children do. She lives with her aunt, who didn’t care much for her and beat her. Brenda ended up with both a broken leg and a broken arm on two separate occasions. Amy LOVED Brenda and wanted to remove her from this situation. My heart felt burdened for this child, but I dismissed adopting her outright because she was older than Matthew. I remember vividly that I was cleaning the bathroom and felt the Spirit speak to my heart, “what if Brenda is your daughter?” The understanding and the wisdom He pressed on me in that moment is that God Himself had a plan for our family. Matthew could have an older sister that I didn’t know about–and for me to worry about age and birth order was a bit…well, just not the point. And this was a two-fold moment, because it wasn’t God telling me that Brenda was our daughter (who ended up going back to her village to live with her grandfather), but specifically showing me how I was trying to control something that He was already doing. My desire to control–my thoughts, my opionions–where getting in the way of His work.


Praise the Lord! Because if I had been so focused on birth order, we would have left Redeemer House Orphanage after just a few minutes. There are no babies there! Instead, we stayed for several hours and went back for a second overnight visit and really got to know these kids.

upcoming trip

Our whole family is headed to Uganda. We will be there for three weeks, from June 15th-July 5th. There are many reasons we are going to Uganda–we first took an interest in this country because my sister moved there in November 2009. She lived with us for four months while she made preparations to move over there and while here kept asking me “if I call you in a six months with a baby will you take him?” And I said, “I don’t really know how to say no to that.” God had been leading me towards adoption from my childhood. It was just something I had a heart for. But over the last two years God really began teaching me what it meant to adopt, how he ADOPTED me. And with my sister’s influence I started looking at Uganda. Doug and I had many discussions about adoption and I kept waiting for him to “hurry up” and get it. And finally on a long drive back from Virginia listening to some good old Jars of Clay, God just moved in Doug’s heart and led him to begin pursuing adoption. A few months later, we found some babies, fell in love and began pursuing them. They ended up going to another American family. We were heartbroken because we felt like God had told us they were our kids. I felt empty. So I went to Uganda in January, demanding that God show me Himself and explain why he did this. I didn’t get an explanation. (You can read more of my thoughts about that here.)

But I did get to be a part of my sister’s life for ten days. I met some amazing kids, and God just pretty much broke my heart for this nation and this people. Amy works with Revelation Life, a small ministry (one family, Amy, and a handful of interns) out of the UK. They work in three different slums outside Kampala–Banda, Kina and Kasubi. In the mornings, they break up into three different groups and each team goes into a different slum. They spend time loving on the kids, meeting parents and talking to families. They spend time praying for any illness, disease, infections, etc. If there is an immediate need they will try to meet it. In the afternoons they have street club–which is similar to our KidSutff program–where the entire team goes to one slum and they play games with the kids, share a bible story and pray over the kids. Most of the parents are gone during the day, so the kids are left to fend for themselves. Rev Life seeks to speak value back into these children. Once a week on Wednesday the doctor will come into the slums and treat any ailments (so each slum gets visited once a month). Rev Life also has a sponsorship program where they send the kids to school. To go to school, the kids need a uniform, books and there is a small fee charged to the students, that the sponsorship covers. I got to experience all of this the last time I was in Uganda, and it is some of what Doug, the kids and I will get to be a part of this time.

Amy hasn’t been home for a year, so Nicola (co-founder of Rev Life) told her to take a week off to spend time with us. So some of the first week we’re there we get to love on my sister. We’re planning to visit the pool, going out to eat in Kampala, and take an overnight trip to Jinja.

But adoption is still on our heart. And so we’re also going to meet with our lawyer, hand over our dossier and visit three or four orphanages around Kampala. Doug and I are both open for God to move–we just have slightly differing expectations. My hope is that we’ll come home with the name of a kid(s) that we will pursue adopting; Doug thinks we’ll have made some contacts and have a better idea of what to do next.

Because of our pride, and the uncertainty of where we’re at, we decided to delay fundraising until we’re in the process of adopting–i.e., been matched to a kid and have a court date. This trip is more of a vision trip of sorts, planned last minute, and we’ll be spending most of our time with Amy and the rest of the Revelation Life team. In that light, we wanted to save our fundraising for clearly adoption related “stuff.” And we want the freedom to allow God to move, even if that means solely hanging out by the pool to love on my sister who needs a Sabbath.

Thank you for taking an interest in what we’re doing and we’ll definitely keep updates on facebook, twitter and our blog.

check out Revelation Life’s website here and my sister’s blog here.

looking beyond

I watched my niece Riley Elizabeth enter this world. What’s crazy is that her birth means the world to a handful of people, but most of the world was processing the royal wedding or the death of Osama Bin Laden when she was fighting for life. I watched my sister’s body as it was stretched to the breaking point, sacrificing herself for the purpose of something greater. It was probably one of the most amazing moments of my life–to be there with them at such an intimate moment.

I drove up to the birthing center just a few hours before her birth and spent the time praying for Lisa, Matthew and for Riley. I did not ask God to make it a painless birth. I mean, it’s gonna hurt. But I asked for endurance and strength for Lisa. The verse that kept coming to mind is Hebrews 12:2 “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…” That was the picture and the image I had for Lisa–that for the joy set before her she would endure this momentary suffering. And as the time wore on and she pushed and pushed and pushed, it was the knowledge she was fighting for this precious child that gave her the strength to endure. And in one crazy, awe-inspiring moment the suffering abated and Riley was placed in her mother’s arms for the very first time.

God gives us pictures and images. He knows that we can’t know him unless he reaches down to us and relates to us in ways that we can understand. He makes himself knowable to us. He uses language and experiences we can understand that are pictures of a heavenly reality. So I watched my sister give birth; but I was exhorted to remember that this world is momentary and fleeting. And the suffering I might experience is only for a time–and there is greater joy waiting. How do I persevere? I copy my sister–I fix my eyes on what is waiting for me. For her, at that moment, it was Riley. For me, and for all my days, I fix my eyes on Jesus–he is the one who founded and the one who will perfect my faith. I copy him, as he endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. So I will endure, by his grace, and wait for the joy that is waiting for me.

dear Lisa

This is a letter to my sisters, especially to Lisa.

This weekend my dad and Chris came to visit. While they were here they requested that we all go out to eat to celebrate Lisa’s birthday. When they first mentioned this to me, my immediate response was, “Hey! What about me?!” as my birthday falls 20 days after hers. But I decided to suffer in silence and just go with it. I could be humble, like Jesus.

Right.

It wasn’t too much longer that my (sin) nature revealed itself for what it was. Saturday they wanted to take us to Bed, Bath, & Beyond for Lisa to pick out her birthday present. Beforehand my dad mentioned to me that they wanted to buy me new dinnerware. After six years of marriage Doug and I are down to four plates, counting the three they bought us two summers ago, so a new set would be amazing. As soon as we entered the store Dad directed Lisa over to the cookware section and Chris started explaining some things to her. Turns out she was getting a new set of cookware. Instantaneously everything good evaporated and I was consumed with jealousy. My dad said, “Why don’t you go look at the plates?” and I walked over to that section like I was being punished. Are you kidding me?! I couldn’t see anything else for the next 20 minutes. I didn’t even enjoy looking at plates. It took getting seriously carsick, which never happens to me, so I had to go to the bathroom at the next store so Jesus could get me alone to bring this to light. He called it jealousy.

He called it hating my sister. All I could do was bow my head and say, “Yes. It’s true.” I confessed. I repented. And now it seems almost laughable–except that it’s evil, dark and sinful. I was so focused on what I wasn’t getting, that I completely missed the good thing I was getting. I was incapable of enjoying my own unique, amazing gift. The plates I picked out are perfect, but I was so ensnared in my sin that I couldn’t enjoy the gift, or the the ones who gave me the gift. This jealousy has been the lens through which I’ve looked at the world.

It took 27 (almost 28) years for me to understand. I say I love my sisters. But when good things happen to them all my good feelings toward them evaporated. I can’t stand it when they get something that I’m not getting. That is not love. I blamed them. I hated them. And that’s just where it started. I have hated you too. I hate you for having the things I want. I hate you for being “ahead” of me. I hate you for being smarter, prettier, funnier, more athletic, a better writer, more godly. The list goes on and on and on. I’ve been so focused on what I don’t have, that I haven’t enjoyed the gifts I do have, or enjoyed God who has given all these good things. All I can do is confess, repent and say BUT GOD (Ephesians 2:4). I am still jealous. I still hate more than I love. But I am clinging to Jesus. He is my only hope to escape this body of sin and of death.

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