ABCs of Adoption- Part 5

Relationships are so very complicated. People can have personality clashes, old wounds that haven’t healed, memories that haunt or resentment and unforgiveness. And then sometimes people just don’t care or won’t even try. 

On the other hand relationships are so basically simple. People who are willing to tolerate differences, who have forgiven, grown, healed. People who care a lot and won’t stop trying no matter what. 

Whether it is marriage or adoption or siblings or in-laws, relationships can be complicated at their worst and as simple as ABC at their best. 


Two of my sons are marrying this fall season. One of my new daughter-in-laws uses the hashtag #tistheseasontobemarried and I believe she must be right! These young couples are committing to love each other and prefer each other and to be in a binding, legally and spiritually, relationship. 

Adoption is that same sort of commitment. We commit to love and protect and provide and prefer our children. It is a binding, both legally and spiritually, relationship. So what if it doesn’t work out?

It is a terrible tragedy when relationships fail, marriages end in divorce or adoptions are disrupted. There is sure to be plenty of pain and hurt. But we all know that these things do happen. Love is risky. People are people. Relationships can be complicated. 



So why in the world would we even try? Why would we marry, adopt, love or commit when there is such a great risk involved?

Because there is also such great hope! So many great possibilities! So much potential!  Relationships, people, marriage, family, adoption and love are all worth every ounce of any risk involved. 

Family is a relationship of commitment, both legally and spiritually. Family begins with two people, who are not related by blood or biology, committing to one another, both spiritually and legally. And sometimes it grows by the birth of children, and sometimes it grows by the adoption of children and sometimes it grows because we choose to open our hearts to people we love and cherish, just because we want to. 



Many times people hesitate when considering adoption, wondering if they can love a child that is not biologically theirs. What if it doesn’t work out? What if the relationship fails? What if there are personality clashes? What if a million things?

If you are going to focus on the ‘what ifs’ you’re going to live a life full of fear and that’s no way to live. If you are going to avoid any emotional risks, you’re going to live a life of loneliness and that’s no way to live. If you refuse to see the possibilities, the potential, you’re going to live a limited life and that’s no way to live. 



Whatever you do? Whatever you choose? Whatever you decide? Don’t let fear, regret, past experiences or failed relationships cause you to give up on love. Love has never and will never, give up on you. 

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ABC’s of Adoption – part 3

November is National Awareness Day for both Adoption and Prematurity. It seems only right that I spotlight our son who was born prematurely and also became our first adopted child. 


We had only been foster parents about six months when we received a call just days before Christmas that would forever change our lives. I’ll never forget that phone call. I was so excited, I literally jumped for joy. 

The social worker explained the situation. A premature baby boy, now weighing five pounds was ready to come home from the hospital. I fairly flew to the hospital that very day. Oh how my heart rejoiced. 

Everyone loved Jesse. How could we not. He was a delight right from the beginning and brought us so much joy. Of course, he was our foster child and although we loved him with all our hearts, we knew the day might come when he would leave. 

Two and a half years later, we had the great privilege of adopting him. Our first adoption of seven, we truly thought he would be our one and only. We were so thrilled to stand before the judge and know that Jesse was our forever son. 


I hear so often the concern that foster-care adoption is risky. While it is true that we didn’t know exactly what tomorrow would hold, may I remind you, that neither do you. Regardless if a child is fostered, birthed, or adopted, there are no guarantees. Love is risky business. 

Love is also worth the risk. Jesse was worth the risk. Each child that is waiting in the foster care system this very day, is worth the risk. Are you willing to take the risk? I’m so very glad we did. 

ABCs of Adoption – part 2

Continuing my ABCs of Adoption in honor of November being National Adoption Month! Celebrate with me. 

Today is the day we go the Dream Center downtown and minister to those who are there for food and fellowship. It’s always a blessing, but today was even more so. 

One of our sons, Jeremiah, has a birthday coming up this weekend and one of the ways he wanted to celebrate was to give the message today in my stead. He worked so diligently and prayed and prepared all week. He normally does the music and worship with my two daughters. Today he was to do both the music and the message. 


His message was about the Good Samaritan, being one and finding one. He shared from his heart as well and referred to a number of scriptures. I could tell he was a bit nervous, but he was also so happy to have the honor of speaking to the precious Café family. 

To say he has come a long way in his young life, is hardly appropriate. He has conquered mountains. He recounted this true story from his childhood and I’d like to share it with you. 

Jeremiah had some learning differences and one of the biggest hurdles was reading. He just could not get the hang of it and it was years later that he was diagnosed as having dyslexia. 

We often had (and still have) family devotions. He could not read, but I was determined he would be included. So, he would hold his Bible and point to the words as I read and he repeated them. This went in for some time and one day I encouraged him to try and read a few words on his own. 

That was the day we made a discovery. Jeremiah could read the Bible before he could read other books. We were astounded and he was so proud to be able to do so. I can not explain it, but it is the truth. 

So what does this have to do with adoption? In his message today, Jeremiah said God puts people in our lives to help shape and form us. He said these people are Good Samaritans and they take action when they see a need. Then he pointed to me and said, my mom is a Good Samaritan, she never sat back and looked away from a person who needed help. 

That was such a beautiful thing for him to say, and it made me want to declare on the hill tops, that adoptive parents aren’t rescuing someone else’s children, they are discovering their very own children in a unique way. Jeremiah is such a blessing in our lives and I can not imagine our life if had not had the great honor of being his parents. Adoption made that possible. 

A Love Like No Other – The Love of a Mother

Today isn’t Mother’s Day, but mothers are on my mind and I’d like to tell you why. 

Yesterday as we sat in a waiting room biding our time, my mom recounted to me what she had told my daughters. She told them about life. She told them about God and her faith in Him. She told them about me and the first time she saw me. 

As I watched her face as she repeated what I’ve heard many times before, her eyes shone with the memories of love and astonished wonder. 

“I just couldn’t believe it. How could a baby of mine be so beautiful, so perfect. I cried and cried. I counted your toes and fingers. You were perfect.”

As I listened I thought the real wonder of this story was the depth of a mother’s love. I also thought it was a great blessing to have been loved with such a love. 


Earlier this week, I told my soon-to-be daughter-in-law about the first time I saw my son whom she will wed. My tale was different. No one placed him in my arms as a newborn. But still, the wonder was just as well, wonderful, when he came into our life. I think she understood clearly the depth of my love for him. 

A few days ago I read a post by a young momma. “What was life before him?” She referred to her newborn son. I knew just what she meant. 


Two days ago my sister-in-law flew across the ‘big pond’ to see her baby and her grandbabies, one of whom is one-week old. That love and hope of brighter tomorrows has kept her moving forward lately through a difficult season. 

My FB feed is filled with new babies and the love in each of these little momma’s faces is apparent. They often use words like perfect. They’re all right of course. 


And then of course, there are the mommas who have adopted and have felt the flavor of wonderment that floods my own soul. I can’t help but rejoice with them as each milestone is poated and celebrated. There are the mommas who have fostered and there are mommas-in-waiting. Mommas are lovely, altogether lovely. 


And don’t even get me started on grand-mommas. My own grandmother was such a treasured and influential part of my childhood, I can’t put it into words. She absolutely helped form me into who I am today. No doubt. I grew to see myself through her eyes, eyes filled with love. 

My sister is experiencing the joys of being a grandmother. One born just weeks ago, another due in a few weeks. Her whole world has shifted in anticipation of this new season of wonder. 

It’s no surprise that I have enjoyed being Grandmommy to three little girls in Georgia who are just the sweetest princesses around! If you aren’t sure about that, just ask me and I’ll do my best to convince you. They aren’t my conventional grandchildren. I’m not the conventional sort. But I have claimed them and they have claimed me and love has sealed the deal. 


No matter how God gave us our children and grandchildren, the thing is, He gave them to us. They are gifts. The love we have for them just seeps out of our souls. 

“Wait a minute there, my experience wasn’t like this.” This may be what a few of you are thinking and I know it’s the truth. You know, as a foster-mom, I sometimes witnessed the worst examples of motherhood. Not every case, but many cases involved mothers who weren’t loving the way they should or maybe the way they truly wanted to. I know that plenty of mommas are selfish, bad-tempered, critical, and hurtful. That’s a shame. But those aren’t the mommas I’m thinking of this morning. 


I’m thinking of mommas who have influenced our lives for the good, been our personal cheerleader, gave us courage to do better and be better. I’m thinking about mommas who adjust their lives, postpone their dreams, set aside plans, and invest themselves into their children. I’m thinking about mommas who have prayed and are still praying. I’m thinking about mommas who have had to overcome adversity, struggle financially, and press on when they wanted to sit down. I’m thinking about mommas who have loved with great abandon and are ready to keep loving not only their children and their children’s children, but theirs great and great-great-grandchildren. 


This morning, mommas are on my mind and I just wanted to tell you why. 

So Loved 

Yesterday my five youngest children and I made a one-day, out-of-town road trip and I was the driver. It was a very beautiful and happy day spent with lots of folks we love. 


Naturally, on the drive home I was doing a lot of thinking and pondering. Things like, never ever give up on the possibilities of what God’s love can accomplish. His love is the most powerful force on earth and can change situations, people’s hearts and the direction of a person’s life. I needed that reminder. Maybe you did too. 

Another truth that is stamped on my heart was verified yesterday. There’s an old adage that says you can’t pick your family. I’d like to firmly disagree. Yes you can. Marriage is a perfect example. A choice to be family is made. Adoption is another example. A choice to become family is made. But there are other examples as well when no judge declares anything at all. Instead hearts declare belonging to one another because we so love them. 

You may not can choose who you are related to by blood, but you do get to choose your family. I’ve chosen well. Not only by marriage and adoption, but also by relationship. By caring and loving and praying and connecting and communicating and hoping and helping and sometimes the biding of time, by so loving them. 


During the next few weeks I will be in four different states visiting family. I will see two dozen family members. I am blood related to less than half of those, only nine to be exact. And yet, they are all my family. 

How can that be? I’ll tell you clearly how. Because love trumps blood, love trumps hate, love trumps differences,  love trumps distances, love trumps circumstances and love even trumps the law of the land sometimes. Relationships are formed when commitment is made, time is invested and choices are lived out. I so love them. 

Today I am loving the beauty of love. The choices we make, the lives we live, the paths we walk and yes, oh yes, the families we have!

Below is a photo of a few of my most beloved family members. I don’t share a single drop of blood with any of them. What we do share is love and let me assure you I so love them!


Below is another photo. This one is a photo of my mother and sister with whom I share blood. Guess what? We are family, not because of blood but because of relationship, precious memories, laughter and the bonds of love! I so love them. 


I can’t conclude my thoughts without adding this. The MOST important family decision you can ever make will be to become a part of the family of God. Choosing to be adopted into His family, as His child, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ will be the most life-altering decision you ever make. You know why? Because of love, once again, because of love. He so loves us. 

Permanent Residence in a Life of Love 

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house,”1 John 4:17-18 MSG

I like the thought of a ‘permanent residence in a life of love.’

“Permanent residence” is different than staying in a motel for a while or even renting a home temporarily. Which describes your relationship with God? Are you committed to this life of love? Does love have run of the house of your soul? Has your heart been overtaken with the love of God?


How can we know? 

  • Well, if you are doing what you should do but resent it, that isn’t love, that is obligation. 
  • If you are doing what you do to achieve status or influence or reward, that likely isn’t love, that is manipulation. 
  • If you expect to always be appreciated, noticed or paid back, that isn’t love either.

I think a house where love runs things will be furnished with forgiveness, the benefit of the doubt and second chances. I think a house where love is in charge will have strong walls of firm boundaries that keeps those who reside there safe. I think that a house where love rules is a house where growth is encouraged and people are respected. 


Today’s challenge is to make a permanent commitment to this life of love and let love reign.

Moments Matter

Here’s the thing I want to say today to myself and to lots of other folks that I love and care about. Heck, I even want to say it to you if you are someone I haven’t ever even met. Here is what I want to say to us all. Moments matter.

You have been given this life, this day, this moment to breathe and inspire and learn and love. And yes, sometimes it is a moment to grieve and heal and recognize loss. Before you have even finished reading this short blog entry, one moment will have passed and another will be before you. Moments matter.

I think in this day of hurry up and get to the next thing we sometimes fall into the mentality of being too busy to pick up a penny and too careless with the moments in our hand. We think we must wait for the big moments and spend all of the other moments preparing for them. What we don’t realize is that every moment matters.

Right this moment, this very moment, I have opportunities that may never come my way again. That opportunity may be to rest and refresh myself. That opportunity may be to pray to a God who is listening on behalf of a friend who is hurting. That opportunity may be to write or sing or dance or be still. It may be to pause and consider. It may be to take action and to do so quickly. Moments matter.

Let’s face it, if we could, there would be a few moments that we would retrieve and a few that have caused us some regrets. We can hope we don’t make those same mistakes and have learned better. However, there will be new moments where we will rush through, speak rashly, stumble in our haste, lose our temper, speak unkindly or make a mess of things. Here’s the thing, even those moments matter.

Do you know why moments matter? They matter because people matter.  They matter because you matter. Your thoughts, your actions, your hopes, your dreams, even your worst moments matter. Your pain, your struggles, your disappointments, even the apparently insignificant moments matter.

If we aren’t careful, in this time we live in where we are flooded with images of horrific moments, history making moments, newsworthy moments and moments that leave us feeling powerless, we will overlook the moments right before us. These are the moments that we can choose to embrace, choose to learn and grow from, choose to lavish upon those we care for and by doing so be empowered. Moments matter.

 

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