Christmas- What about Joseph?

I’m stuck on the story of Joseph this weekend. He doesn’t get many accolades. Truth is, we can learn a lot from the earthly father of Jesus. Joseph chose not divorce Mary, which he had every right to do in his culture. He also chose not to abort Jesus, which was a common practice in the Roman Empire.

Adoption means advocating for the unborn, just as Joseph did.

Adoptive families must trust God to build their families His way. Joseph could have divorced Mary, denied the child and  walked away. Orphans come in all sorts of packages. The culture often dictates who should be ‘saved’ and who should not be. Many infants never leave the womb alive, in the name of a woman’s reproductive rights, their right to life is terminated before they breathe.

Adoption means advocating for the unborn, just as Joseph did. His actions matched His theology. We adopted parents walk in the footsteps of Jesus’ earthly father, when we respond to an “unwanted pregnancy” with the offer of family.

We parents respond to tragedy and social orphans with the offer of a home. We adoptive parents walk in God’s vision of family when we adopt. Adoption is not a second rate alternative to biological children. It’s kingdom building work. When we build the kingdom through adoption, we follow in Joseph’s footsteps. Adoption is a holy work.

Peace in the Process

I was going to share a post about the Thanksgiving holiday today. I had it written up in my notebook, ready to type up and add a cute graphic. I changed my mind when I saw Kristin Hill Taylor’s book, Peace in the Process, kindle version is free today! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to support another adoptive parent and author.

Kristin runs an online support group that I belong to. She is an encourager and an activist for adoptive parents. She rocks.

This is her story of the heartache of infertility followed by the blessing of adoption! She found peace in the process. ❤️ Also, weaved into her book are little writings of other adoptive Moms (including me).😍Get your copy today!

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(Click on image to go to Amazon and grab your free Kindle copy!)

Here’s my excerpt from her book: Make sure you get your copy to read Kristin’s story and hear from other Moms like me!

 

In Their Words :: Kathleen Guire

Adopting an older child is like reading a novel from the middle instead of the beginning. We parents enter in the middle of the story. The child, or children in my case, have a history. Their history usually has trauma. Child development expert Dr. Karyn Purvis calls referred to them, as “children from hard places.”

My children were just that; they didn’t have a picture-perfect beginning. They had two years of orphanage living under their belts to boot. When my four adopted children “came home” from Poland to the Guire household in West Virginia, they had nothing to their names, physically, but so much emotional baggage that it barely fit through the doorway. These beautiful, half-written stories entered our household with their survival mode in full swing.

My three biological children were learning the language of grace as my adopted children learned the language of family. It was an interesting dance. Some days it flowed like milk and honey in the Promised Land and other days we seemed to be lost in the wilderness. But we persevered. We laughed and cried together. We fought the demons of their pasts linked arm in arm and often fist to fist.

What does adoption look like later? With sixteen years of our forever family behind us and most of my children grown into adults, I’d say it looks good on the Guires.

My bios have come to me and thanked me for adopting. It has given them a sensitivity to pain in others they would not have had otherwise. When one son took a job in a homeless shelter, he had compassion built in from early life that poured out of him into relationships he formed there. The residents could tell he cared.

My adopted children have thanked me, all but the youngest (give him time). Truth be told, I didn’t adopt for a showering of thanksgiving. I did it to build a forever family. However, it is a true sign of maturity and healing my children – all of my children – recognize the gift of adoption. It is the gift of grace offered one day, healing another and daily dying to self. Isn’t that what family is?

Kathleen Guire is a mother of seven, writer, teacher, and encourager who blogs at thewholehouse.org.

Peace in the Process and Thanksgiving!

kristin hill taylor head shotKristin Taylor is guest posting today, visiting from kristinhilltaylor.com. Kristin is the author of Peace in the Process

The same year my middle-child Ben was born and adopted into our family, our small group from church started a tradition. I’m not sure we knew it was going to be a tradition, but this group – equal parts kids and adults – gathered around a table for a Thanksgiving meal.

That was 2009. And, actually, Greg and I didn’t get to go because Ben was born on that Monday afternoon. We brought him home Tuesday afternoon, just hours before they had our first Thanksgiving. Not only did we not go, but my friend Sarah – who had a boy just shy of a month old – made the green bean casserole I was supposed to bring. And then our friends brought us plates overflowing with delicious food. We weren’t at the actual table with them that first year, but we were with them and they were with us.

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Community works that way.

Four years later, we still gathered around the table for a Thanksgiving meal, and it was when I broke out my china plates for the first time. For more than eleven years, that china has been sitting around, supposedly waiting for a “special occasion.” Truth be told, I was persuaded to register for the china and really wouldn’t regret had I not added it. But I have it. And I decided having it sit there was pointless.

Really, everyday community is a special occasion.

We’re not technically in an official small group with these people, but they are our community. Together, we’ve mourned and prayed and dreamed and hoped and planned and played and cheered and cried and laughed.

My girlfriends even washed, by hand, the china plates I probably would have put in the dishwasher. They’re into the ordinary details like that. They’re helpful like that. We’re in this life together like that.

In 2013, I snapped a picture of the nine kids who ranged in age from seven months to seven years and were gathered for the Fifth Annual Thanksgiving with Friends. I noticed Ben being part of the group in his school uniform, little blue shirt. He was a day old when this group first gathered around a table, literally, to give thanks for how we gather around the table, figuratively, with each other in our daily lives. He’s grown up knowing those other kids who surround him on the couch and their parents. He’s grown up in community.

In 2016, the kid contingent had grown to eleven for our Eighth Annual Thanksgiving with Friends. I still didn’t have a clever name for the gathering, but we still had each other, even though one family had moved several hours away. That was the year we traded the china for paper plates – and nobody cared.

God made Greg, Cate, Ben, Rachel, and me a family. But He’s expanded our family because we’re part of His family.

Truth be told, this community amazes me. God built community around me with these families and others when I wondered if it would happen. He surprised us with community in a town I wasn’t sure would be able to offer us new friends. Some friends have moved. Other friendships have changed with the normal rhythm of life. We’ve made new friends and kept the old.

 

Thankfully, that community continues to happen right here around my table.
*This is an excerpt from Kristin Hill Taylor’s new book, “Peace in the Process: How Adoption Built My Faith & My Family.” Kristin believes in seeking God as the author of every story and loves swapping these stories with friends on her porch. She lives in Murray, Kentucky, with her husband and three kids and shares stories at kristinhilltaylor.com.

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Book link – bit.ly/PeaceInTheProcess

 

National Adoption Month – A Few Words on Orphans

November is National Adoption Month! I’m doing a giveaway of 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas on Facebook and Instagram. One book for Facebook winner and one for Instagram! Find the posts and tag three friends to get your name in the drawing.  The Whole House Team will draw and share the winners, live on Thursday!  On November 8th, Kristin Taylor, author of Peace in the Process will be sharing!

 

It’s in the dark, pre-dawn hours. The orphanage is quiet and I am awake. I can’t get back to sleep. I fluff my pillow and sit up in bed, leaning against the iron frame of the bed. Sleep hasn’t come easy this month that we have lived in the orphanage. I am running on adrenaline and my heart is in overdrive.

Hubby Jerry and I flew to Poland and then rode to Sulejow in hopes of adopting a sibling group of three. This was a small village, destroyed by the Germans in WWII, just 15 km from the first Concentration Camp in Poland. We moved into the orphanage after living a week in a castle turned hotel.

At least there was real heat in our quarters in the orphanage as opposed to the frigid castle. I still couldn’t sleep. You see I wasn’t prepared for the emotional overload. My mind skipped back and forth between joy and grief. Overwhelming joy that we were adopting. Overwhelming grief that I couldn’t take every child home. It ate at me. It gnawed at me. I played games with these kids. Hiked into the village with teens. Watched them smile while they played with my video camera. And I couldn’t take them home.

If you don't have a heart for the lost or the orphan, then go visit them in the midst of their pain. Go participate in their circumstances.

Interesting thing about orphans is they look appealing from a distance. We can form all sorts of platitudes, we can quote James 1:27 and intend to raise money for orphans. We can intend  to adopt some day. As a church, we can vow to fulfill the mandate ‘to care for widows and orphans’ while we sit in comfortable pews and take communion and remember the death and suffering of our Lord. but, up close, you can’t ignore suffering.

I couldn’t. I wasn’t prepared for the faces of neglect, swarming around me vying for attention. It’s nothing like in the movies. I couldn’t just smile and move on. Poverty envelops those children and strips them of the most basic of human needs, connection. They want to matter, just like every human being on the planet. They want someone to look them full in the face and say, “YOU MATTER. YOU ARE VALUABLE. YOU ARE LOVED.” Neglect says, “You don’t matter.” Abuse says, “I don’t care about you,”

While Hilary Clinton, looking weary and worn down, states on camera that an unborn child doesn’t have Constitutional rights, she devalues life once again. Life is valuable. Everyone with a beating heart and breath in their lungs holds value. You cannot set a dollar amount on life.The Constitution or rulers don’t set the value. It is there. You cannot snuff it out.

The church should be adopting orphans quicker than they bag their groceries at the self check out. We should be proclaiming from the rooftop the value of life, that Christ died that each child might have life and have it more abundantly. We should not be participating in stealing, killing and destroying of life. That is the enemy’s work.

Why don’t we see the value of adoption? The importance of it? Because we first don’t value ourselves. We see ourselves as sinners instead of saints (thanks, Tracey for that insight). We see ourselves as beggars instead of sons of God. We don’t recognize our own adoption. We don’t realize that we have received the Spirit of Adoption by which we cry  “Abba, Father!” We don’t know that before the foundation of the world, God chose us, actually picked us out, destined us to be adopted as His own children (Ephesians 1:4,5). Read that again. Let it sink in. YOU ARE CHOSEN. YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE A SON OR DAUGHTER OF GOD.  You are not an orphan, wandering, lost, looking for  acceptance. You have it. You have been pre-approved.

With that truth settled deep in our spirits, we must go into all the world and preach the Gospel which has the power to save souls. We should be sharing this news with those who need it most, the spiritual and physical orphans. Those who have been rejected, neglected, abused and abandoned.

 

If you don’t have a heart for the lost or the orphan, then go visit them in the midst of their pain. Go participate in their circumstances. You can’t watch it on a screen and understand. You cannot have empathy for something you have not lived through yourself. Ask God to give you the gift of understanding the suffering of others and the hands to do something about it. It’s okay to feel afraid of suffering. It’s not okay to ignore it.

If you’re thinking about heading down the adoption/foster path, do it afraid. You don’t have to have all your ducks in a row to adopt or foster. Just be willing. Be obedient to the call, if it is your call.  If not, support someone who is adopting. Let’s fulfill the mandate of James 1:27 and care for the widow and the orphan. Let’s follow in the footsteps of the Father and adopt.

 

25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas An Advent Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Families – Coming soon!

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If you have adopted or foster children, this is for you.

If you have a special needs child, this is for you.

If even thinking about the busy Christmas season coming in a few months makes you break out into hives, this is for you.

If you’re thinking about skipping the festivities altogether because it’s just too much, this is for you.

 If you want your children to enjoy the Christmas season and learn the true meaning of Christmas, this is for you.

if you’re craving a silent night, full of peace and goodwill towards your kids, this is for you.

Our adopted kids first Christmas at home was magical and overwhelming all at the same time. Music. Family. Church Events. Caroling. We just didn’t know where and when the triggers would show up and send them into meltdown.

Welcome to your twenty-five day countdown and survival guide. Raising children from hard places is challenging. Surviving the holidays with a smile on your face while parenting is even more challenging, that’s why I wrote this handy little Advent book. Don’t stress. It’s not a huge to-do, not more than a paragraph or two each day. Easy peasy and encouraging. So, take a minute each morning and read. This year, let’s not just survive the Christmas season, let’s thrive!

Every year  the calendar flips to December and we parents hit the ground with skis on and head down the slope to things to do and places to be before that magic goal day on the calendar, December 25th. We want to focus on the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of the Savior. We may have a depth of understanding of the season that our children do not see. They deal in the tangible of what they can see until the spiritual foundation is raised. Some of us are parenting hurt children who have come from hard places and have no foundation of celebration. Christmas activities may seem strange or act as triggers for their past. This thriving  tip devotional is full of practical suggestions to help with some of the anxiety of season and make it more joyful for children and parents alike.

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25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas, An Advent Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents is designed to read during the month of December with four chapters, one for each week and daily short devotionals with practical tips of how to thrive through the holidays with kids from hard places. After each tip is a Biblical application for Mom and Dad. This book is your guide to thriving through the Christmas holiday!