Saturday, December 29, 2012

James 4:5

Warning: if you are not passionate about orphans yet, you might be offended by this post.  Or you might let the Lord touch your heart and make you passionate :)

Yesterday at Bible study we watched session 6 of Beth Moore's James study.  The first part of the session dealt with James 4:9-10, and when is it appropriate to change our joy into gloom, and our laughter into mourning.  She listed 4 situations in which we should be grieved at our own selves and change our joy to gloom.  Point number two was "When we don't take God seriously."  This is a frightening thought in and of itself, that we should be cavalier in our attitude toward a holy, almighty God.  She went on, however, to talk at length about a verse just prior to this, verse 5.  In the NET it is worded, "Or do you think the Scripture means nothing when it says..." (italics mine)  Then she listed several examples of commands of the Lord that we often do not take seriously.  I won't take time to list them here, but I'll give you one guess as to how I filled in the ...  Do you think the Scripture means nothing when it says take care of the orphans???!!!!  It seems to me that the church as a whole does not take this command of the Lord seriously at all.  If it did, there would not still be millions of orphans worldwide suffering unimaginable abuse and neglect.  Children would not be left to lie in cribs, untouched, dirty, hungry, bored or hopeless.  Ministries like Compassion International and Samaritan's Purse would run out of children needing sponsors.  Adult mental institutions in Eastern Europe would no longer be home to vulnerable children who just need a chance to live.  And foster care in America would cease to exist because children would have families to call their own. 
But this is not the reality.  The reality is that most Christians are doing nothing to help the orphans.  And the church is largely silent about this grievous sin.  (I am talking about the church as a whole, not any individual congregation.  Many individual churches do "get it" and are a wonderful example of caring for the fatherless!)  We have no problem preaching against alcohol, adultery, anger, gossip, etc.  And we feel justified when we cast out those who fall into such sin.  (We aren't, by the way.)  But what would happen if caring for orphans became the norm, instead of the exception?  What if pastors started teaching that not caring for the orphan is as much of a sin as any of those other things?  Because it. is.  Or do you think the Scripture means nothing when it says...

If you're not in tune with the adoption world, you might not know that Russian President Putin signed a new bill/law this week, shutting the door on American adoption of Russian children.  And maybe you don't think this is such a big deal.  But for the 46 families who are already matched with children, it's devastating.  And for the thousands of children still waiting for a family to choose them, well, it's catastrophic.  Healthy children will be turned out on the street at age 16, while special needs children will be sentenced to a life in an adult mental institution.  Church, we need to wake up!!  We need to pray!!  God CAN change this decision.  He can change hearts.  He can move mountains to bring orphans home.  But we are not off the hook.  We can't sit and do nothing.  We can't expect someone else to pray or to fast on behalf of the least of these.  We. Must. Do it.  Many people all over the country and are praying and fasting today about this very issue.  But one day is not enough.  We need God to open our eyes and awaken our hearts, so that the plight of the orphan becomes part of our everyday lives.  Both in words and in deeds.  Please, please ask the Lord what YOU should do.  I promise the answer will not be "nothing."

Thursday, December 13, 2012

On the Upswing!

This has been a hard week in the part of my life that is not wrapped up in all things adoption - friends experiencing so much heartache, that all I can pray is "Oh Jesus!"  And I know that he hears that prayer, and he knows that ache, and he will do what I cannot for those I love so much.  Because he loves them infinitely more, and more perfectly than I ever could.  And for that, I praise him!

But on the flip side, in my adoption world, this has been a great week!  James's visa was issued on Monday, and while we have yet to receive our invitation to travel, tickets have been booked, seats picked, and today I bought the first of many items needed to entertain a 4 year old for 24 hours on a plane/in an airport.  We also received word that James has seen our photo book now, knows who we are, and is very excited about his family, especially his siblings.  This has really been a source of stress for me, and while I don't really know exactly how much he understands, I know that he has about a month to process it and ask questions as much as he is able.  I pray every morning, as soon as I wake up, that the Lord will prepare his heart for us, and that his transition to us will be as minimally traumatic as possible.  I feel very reassured that our Father is doing just that. 
Aedan and Liana are getting more excited too, now that we have a definite timeline.  They talk about James, what they will do with him when he gets here, and how they wish he was here now.  It's so sweet.  I've read them the emails we've gotten, telling how excited James was about their pictures in the book, how he imitated their silly faces, how he put his Pirates t-shirt on immediately.  I think that's helped make it more real to them.  We're hoping to be able to skype soon, if we are given permission, and if his foster mom can get to an internet cafe and get access to decent internet.  That would just be icing on the cake at this point!

A few mornings ago (I forget which morning, because I was not diligent enough to get out of bed and get my journal!)  I was reading an Advent devotional, which, of course, was about waiting.  And I realized that waiting has been a part of God's plan for us from the beginning of time.  Abraham and Sarah had to wait for Isaac.  Joseph had to wait in prison.  The Israelites waited in slavery.  Then they waited in the desert (granted, that was their own fault, but still).  The list goes on.  And then God's people waited for hundreds of years for the Messiah.  Generations passed, and God was silent.  No prophets, no messages, nothing.  And then it occurred to me that God waited too!  He waited until just the right time to send his Son, his plan for the salvation of mankind.  How difficult it must have been to watch generation after generation live and die under the law, knowing what was in store in the future. But, in his infinite wisdom that we can't even begin to comprehend, he waited.  I don't know what that time was the right time, but God does.  Maybe he'll explain it to us in heaven, but maybe he won't.  And honestly, it probably won't even matter then.  So to all of you who are waiting, whether for something adoption related, or for healing, for relationship restoration, for the return of the prodigal, for whatever... be encouraged today and know that you are in good company.  Our Father knows what it is to wait, and he also has a just the right time for you.  We might not understand what's taking so long, but we can take comfort in knowing that he knows all things, he sees the beginning and the end (we only see about three seconds worth!) and his plan and his timing are perfect.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Big scare!

Today while on a field trip with my kids, I got a text from a friend about a typhoon in the Philippines. Then she proceeded to tell me that she saw online that Manila was completely underwater and 81 people were dead and thousands had been evacuated.  Now, remember that James's visa appointments are this week. So he is IN MANILA right now! Talk about a major freak out moment!!!  And, not having my own "pocketful of Internet access," I couldn't find out anything for myself.  Finally Jason got home from work and was able to call our agency, and found out that the storm is actually south of Manila, in the Mindanao region.  Huge sigh of relief and much thanks to God, who again, showed his perfect timing.  Here is a picture of the southern part of the Philippines.
Manila is way north of this area.  So, if James was at home right now, he could be in danger.  But as he is in Manila, far away, the worst he's likely to see is a thunderstorm! 
The affected area does need our prayers though!  This time last year saw a similar storm with incredible devastation and many deaths in the same area.  And we don't know what, if any, kind of damage has happened to James's home, or to the island in general.  It's already a pretty poor area, so flooding and high winds will really be a problem.
I'm thanking God for His perfect timing and getting beyond excited to travel so very soon!!!!!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Almost. There.

I'm not a runner.  I have some friends who are, and I tried a few times.  But I just couldn't get into it.  It made my shins, feet and ankles hurt.  And we live on a hill.  Nowhere in our neighborhood is there flat ground.  So my running career was short lived.  But I imagine that if I was a runner, this is what it would feel like to be so close to the end of a marathon.  Last summer I had the joy of watching two very dear friends cross the finish line of a real marathon.  I listened as they described the last few miles, and the sheer determination it takes to make it to the end.  The adoption process is like a marathon, and we are almost at the end.  Just those last few miles to go.  But the waiting and the uncertainty of when are hard to take some days.  Ok, everyday. But some days are harder than others.  This week we got word that James's visa and medical appointments have been scheduled for this upcoming week.  That's the very last thing that has to happen before his visa can be ready and we can go get him.  But it's December 1st.  His second appointment is on the 6th.  The very latest we could possibly (I think) fly out and still make it before the embassy closes is the 14th.  Which means we need those two appointments to happen, the visa to be done, and travel approval given all next week.  That in itself is basically impossible.  Then, if God so chooses to do the miraculous, we'd have just a few days to purchase insanely expensive tickets, make childcare arrangements, buy stuff for the trip, get the idea.  My head is spinning with all of it!!  And I'm having a hard time keeping my thoughts in order just to write this blog!  So, let's suffice it to say, we're at the end of the race, and I don't know exactly how many more miles we have to run.  But I know that God has brought us beautifully this far, and the rest of the journey will play out exactly as He has planned.  And I'm ok with whatever day I get on a plane.  Because I am getting on a plane, SOON!!!!