Adopted, Chosen, and Wretched

My parents had just enrolled me in a Catholic school after the move from Colorado to WV. I had completed some of the science homework ahead of time since I didn’t enter the school at the beginning of the school year. My first day there, I was chosen to go to the blackboard. I was wretched. I felt as if my answers were wrong. I was wrong. I stuck out like a sore thumb among all these kids who had been going to the school since kindergarten. I was the smallest kid in my class and in the class a grade below mine. I wrote the answer to the question in large loopy letters on the chalkboard with fear and trembling. The teacher, Mr. Brummage, commented, “That’s exactly right, Kathleen. If this new student can get this right, you all should.” I felt a tiny bit less wretched.

There have been some social media posts going around about popular preachers saying they are “chosen” with a comparison to Paul, author of 3/4 of the New Testament saying “I am wretched.” Something about these posts didn’t sit right with me. So, I did some studying and thinking.

Here’s something to think about – can you be wretched and chosen at the same time?

Chosen

Even as [in His love] He chose us [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (consecrated and set apart for Him) and blameless in His sight, even above reproach, before Him in love. – Ephesians 1: 4

We can’t take credit for being chosen. Even if we wanted to chosen like those days we waited to see if we made the team, got the part, were chosen to be adopted. It’s not something we can do in our own strength or is based on our merit or good works. Before God put the earth on its axis, he chose us. He chose you. He chose me. We are chosen. (If you want to read some more verses about “chosen,” check out the list at the bottom.)

Wretched

Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]?

Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind serve the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness, my sinful capacity—I serve] the law of sin. – Romans 7:  24, 25

While Paul describes himself as wretched because of his corrupt, moral existence. He is still chosen. That condition of his existence did not change his “chosen” status. His fight with himself is well documented in Chapter 7. It’s the same sort of fight we all have with ourselves and our desire to do right, yet we end up doing the thing we don’t want .

For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. – Romans 7: 15

That’s exactly how I feel! When I hold onto bitter feelings, watch too much tv, don’t use my time wisely, or fill in the blank. How about you? Are you bewildered by your reactions? Do you often practice what you don’t want to? Eat the donut, skip the workout, yell at your kids, come apart at the seams when you have too much to do? I’m preaching to the Guire here.

Adopted, Chosen, and Wretched.

You knew it was coming didn’t you? What about adopted/foster kids? Are they chosen? Of course. We choose to adopt and foster. Sometimes we expect the children not to be wretched. We want them to feel loved, secure, whole, and free of fear.

I remember when we were still in Poland, after a visit to some psychologists, Damian was wretched. Because of something his brother said after the evaluation, Damian thought we would change our minds about choosing him. He said to his brother, “Now you’ve ruined it. They won’t want us anymore.” Of course that wasn’t true. We did choose them from the first time we heard of them.

When our kids come “home” or are part of our family temporarily, they may begin to feel secure and then will be baffled by their own actions. So, will we. Those triggers will make some ugly feelings rear their heads. It may feel as if they don’t feel chosen. Isn’t that just human nature though? We have a place at the table of the family of God, but we tend to slip off our chair and have a fit when circumstances don’t line up with what we want or think theyshould be.

Why talk about Being “Chosen” verses “Wretched” during the holidays?

Now more than any other time during the year will we have to understand that we can feel wretched even when we are chosen. This is the time of year triggers of past memories, good or bad, are present in abundance. Same for our kiddos from hard places. When we tell our kiddos to be on their best behavior when Aunt and Uncle so and so show up and they CAN’T, these kiddos will feel wretched. It’s our job as parents to connect and correct. It’s our job to reaffirm their chosen-ness and value. It’s our job to structure the environment to make them feel safe. 

Want to hear more about this topic? Want to thrive this holiday season?

Some of us are parenting hurt children who have come from hard places and have no foundation of celebration. Holiday activities may seem strange or act as triggers for their past.
Grab a cup of coffee and join Kathleen as she shares some tips for thriving this holiday season!

Join our free e- course:

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 whyI wrote this handy little Advent book and created this course. 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!

scriptures

Chosen: John 15:16, Romans 11: 5, Ephesians 1: 4, I Thessalonians 1: 4, I Peter 1: 2, I Peter 2: 9, Jude 1:1, Revelation 17: 4

Wretched: Romans 7: 24, Revelation 3: 17

Three Tips for Thriving Through the Holidays

Every year the calendar flips to December and we Moms 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 don’t want to just survive the holidays, we want to thrive!

1. Rest

This doesn’t mean do nothing at all. Rest can and should be planned.

Rest often means a different kind of work than you usually do.

Rest doesn’t necessarily mean vegging or bingeing on Netflix (it can be, but not always). This rest means doing something that pour back into you and your family. This is the kind of rest that you plan and always remember. It’s another group of coins in your memory bank.

  • In order for your kiddos to watch a Christmas movie, you make the popcorn and the hot chocolate. You snuggle on on the couch with your kiddos. Take the time to listen to their commentary and questions during the movie.
  • Visiting a tree farm and chopping down a live tree.
  • Decorating a tree.
  • Reading Christmas books aloud.
  • Singing Christmas carols.
  • Having a coffee date with a friend who is a kindred spirit.
  • Go to a Christmas market and look at the lights.
  • Listen to an audio book while you clean, bake or sit by the fire (Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one I listen to every year.)

2. Go Deeper in your understanding of Christmas. Get an Advent Devotional for yourself as well as your children.

I’m never going to get to the place on this earth where I have arrived spiritually. I’m always learning. Going deeper. Having new revelations. Our children learn by repetition, layer by layer we add truths from the scripture as we read through the Advent Devotional. It’s the same for us adults. We need to add layer by layer of Christmas truth to our understanding. Each year we pray that God gives us a new “book of revelations”. God can’t do that if we aren’t willing to take the time to read and study. There are plenty of Advent Devotionals out there. Find one that fits your life for now. If you have small children, try one that you can read in the few minutes you have after everyone is asleep. If you have more time because you have teens or are an empty nester, find a longer version to invest in!

I’m trying Jennifer Hand’s book:

I haven’t read it yet, but I’m super excited about it. Yes, I wrote an Advent book as well. You can find it here.

3. Pray Through.

Mark Batterson speaks of this in his book Circle Maker – here’s my paraphrase:

We don’t usually remember the days we did nothing, but we remember the days we had everything to do and God pulled us through.

If your plate is full this season and it’s all good things that you committed to, then pray through. If you’re tired and don’t think you can do it all, Jesus is all. He gives strength to the weary. When you wait upon Him, He will lift you up on wings as eagles.
Don’t do what I sometimes do – pray and then hang on by my fingernails hoping God will pull through. Thank Him in advance what what He is going to do. Enjoy the the “through” instead of waiting until you get to the other side.
I’ll leave you with this set of verses from Matthew 11.  Note that Jesus says His yoke is light. A yoke implies work. So, whatever work you must do this season, He can make it light. He can refresh your soul.

28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will [a]ease and relieve and [b]refresh [c]your souls.]

29 Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest ([d]relief and ease and refreshment and [e]recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.

30 For My yoke is wholesome (useful, [f]good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne.

Five Day Smoothie Challenge!

Hey Friend,

  • Thanksgiving may have been a great success and if you’re like me, you’re reliving all the fun moments in your mind. We have a fresh pocketful of memories. We may also all have some other habits too. Such as I-have-to-eat-all-the-leftovers-syndrome. I know. I feel as if not eating is wasting it. I remember what my step-father Bud used to say, “It looks better in the trash then it does on me.” He was certainly not a wasteful person, so for him to say that means a lot. The truth is, there comes a point at which we have to ask ourselves –
  • Why am I eating this?
  • Do I need it?
  • Is it helping me or hurting me? 

We don’t have to eat everything. We need to stop and ask our bodies what they need. Years ago, when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease, my gut was shredded. My muscles had wasted away and I felt more than exhausted. I felt angry that my body wouldn’t cooperate with whatever I put in my mouth. It pretty much rejected everything. I started learning more about what foods my body needed. My first step was smoothies. Not necessarily green, but packed with good foods and nutrients.

Honestly my first attempt tasted like poop. Wait. Worse. I think. I just got a bunch of kale, spinach and whatever else I could stuff in the blender and poured the result in a mason jar. My daughter, who joined me on this adventure, took a tentative sip and spit it out. I did the same.

With some more research, some more playing around, I found some smoothies that worked for me. I did some smoothie fasts (just drinking smoothies) and finally settled on replacing my morning meal with one. That’s not super hard! Are you in? One smoothie every morning for five days?  In fact I felt full and energetic and most days would realize by late afternoon that I hadn’t eaten lunch because I wasn’t hungry (that’s not the purpose, just a point).

I’m going to share five of those on our Instagram account next week – November 26th- 30th. 

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Smoothies are not a quick fix or a cure-all, but they have a host of benefits:

1) Natural Weight Loss.

2) Boost Fruit & Vegetable Intake (Particularly Greens)

3) Increased Energy.

4) Boosts Nutrition.

5) Strengthens Immune System.

6) Excellent Source Of Minerals For Healthy Bones.

7) Excellent Source of Antioxidants.

8). Supports Colon and Gut Health.

*You can find more benefits at DaveandTracy.com or research some on your own!

Are you ready to join me? Here’s a list of ingredients you’ll want to grab before Monday morning. If you can’t purchase them all, no worries. You can still do the challenge and modify a bit. I’m all about tweaking recipes.

  • Almond milk
  •  Plain Kefir or whole fat greek yogurt
  • Avocados
  • Granny smith apple
  • Protein powder
  • Spirulina
  • Cacao
  • banana
  • pumpkin
  • carrot juice
  • spinach
  • cinnaman
  • blueberries (I use frozen from the Guire Farm)
  • mint
  • Kiwi (optional)
  • coconut water

Like I said, don’t feel as if you need to buy all of these. If you just use one or two of the recipes this coming week and repeat them, that’s still a win!

On Monday, I’ll be sharing one of my favorites (I say that for all of them)- Green apple-Avocado!

Join us on Instagram for the challenge – @the_whole_house!

Need an extra boost of encouragement to keep healthy over the holidays? Hop on over to iTunes and listen to “Keeping Healthy over the Holidays.”

 

You are anointed and qualified to raise your adopted/foster child.

Jesus

“For unto us a child is born and unto us, a son is given and the government shall be upon His shoulder and His name shall be called Emmanuel.”

-Isaiah 9:6

My first born came out wet, red faced, pointy headed and squalling. I was in the birthing room at Mon General, the first to use this new(0ld) concept-to give birth in a room and stay there for the duration. It was state of the art.  Comfortable and top of the line everything. On the tour, hubby asked what the small square pieces of equipment was on the hinged arm hanging over the bed.

“That would be a tv,”the nurse said with a chuckle. All the couples from our birthing laughed heartily and the tension and fear of that moment was broken.

* * *

We all know the circumstances of Jesus’ birth, at least the general story. In fact some of us have rehearsed it so many times, we could repeat the verse that houses the history, verbatim. It’s like memorizing a poem, but do we really think about the meaning?

* * *

Feel the trek to Bethlehem riding on a donkey?

Labor overtaking you and having no place to go.

Lying him in a manger?

Shepherds coming to worship Him.

No midwife or doctor.

* * *

Jesus wasn’t born in the traditional way or in a comfortable environment. There were no gadgets or TVs to help Mary along or make her feel comfortable. Joseph had to lead the way and fend for his new family. He had to trust the dreams and the word spoken by an angel. Mary had to do the same. Mary and Joseph carried more than the angel visits and dreams in their hearts. They had the prophecies of the coming Messiah.

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Listen carefully, the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and she will call his name Immanuel (God with us).

-Is. 7:14 (Matt 1:23)

We adoptive parents prophecy the intention of building our family through adoption. Over months or years, we inform extended family and friends.

* * *

We are pregnant with the seed of adoption.

* * *

Most of us don’t have angelic visitations, some of us have dreams to confirm or enlarge our hearts. Yet, none of us have exactly the same journey and none of us have an easy one. There may be travel to a foreign country, eating foods that are not common to us, jumping through political hoops of policy. We stand in embassies waiting for rubber stamps to hit paper. We sit in doctor’s offices with panicked, crying children, fulfilling the necessary vaccine quota, all at once. We may spend hours in the air, comforting fevered, frightened children who have never traveled outside of a 15km radius of where they were born. Some of these have only lived within the four walls of a hospital and orphanage for their short life span. Outside terrifies them.

* * *

We listen to the naysayers, the people close to us who tell us we’re crazy. Or worse, those family members who try to convince us through scripture that adoption is not biblical (FALSE) and that having children ‘naturally’ is God’s will no matter how many barren years you have suffered or miscarriages you are still grieving.

What we must hang onto, what we must rehearse is the word given to us. What we parents must recall is the holiness, the sacredness of this messy journey. Nothing worth doing is easy.

Every worthy endeavor has obstacles

Every worthy endeavor has obstacles.

* * *

Joseph and Mary had many, yet knowing the importance of their calling, they persevered.

None of us are raising/adopting God. Thanks be to God, that is finished. That fact does not diminish the importance of our adoption journey. Adopting is following in our heavenly Father’s footsteps. When reading the summation of what Jesus came to earth for, insert your name.

The Spirit of the Lord upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor and the afflicted. He has sent me to bind up and heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the physical and spiritual captives and the opening of prison and of the eyes to those who are bound.

-Isaiah 61:1

When my newbies first came home, I read this chapter obsessively. It’s worth taking the time to read today. The two words I focused on in those early days (and even now)-anointed, qualified.

* * *

Parents, you are anointed and qualified to preach the Gospel of good tidings to your children.

* * *

With the help of the Lord, under your prayer covering and guidance, your children can be set free from the mindset of neglect and lack. If you adopted a child from birth, he can feel chosen, not abandoned. If your teen struggles with his identity, you can proclaim liberty and continue to point to his worth. Formed in his mother’s birth womb, he was chosen and set apart.

Adoption builds families the God-purposed way. Adoption is greater than or precedes the universe. Before Jesus, the Word made flesh, spoke the world into being, God chose us, planned for us to be adopted as His own, because it was His kind intent. (Ephesians 1)

1. Adoption, like the birth of Jesus is hard and messy.

2. Not everyone will understand your calling, but you must hold to your confession of faith.

3. You are anointed and qualified to raise your adopted/foster child.

“This is how adoption works-like a sacrament, that visible sign of inner grace. It’s a thin place where we see that we are different and yet not entirely foreign to one another. We are relatives not by blood, but by mystery.”- Kelley Nikondeha

Christmas Has Needs

I paced back and forth at the front of the house where large windows looked out over the front yard and the mailbox. The mailbox- what had been a symbol of Christmas cards and good news had become my worst enemy. I dreaded the mailman coming bringing bills and more bills, and yet I watched, waited, worried. When the mail truck pulled up to my box, I hid behind the curtains, afraid he would see me and hand deliver bills that said, “FINAL NOTICE”. I imagined him shaking his head in pity me as he saw the stack of bills.

I’ve lived there, deep in the pit, where my prayers were only about my lack. Mortgage payments. Groceries. Presents.

* * *

How do you have a silent night when your mind is full of the need? Of worry? Of the reality of the barrenness of now?

Christmas
Has 
Needs

I’m not going to tell you how to shop smarter or spend less (there are plenty of great blogs and books about that). The truth is you cannot shop smarter with nothing. It is not a great deal if you have nothing.

Over ten years ago, we moved to our current home and still owned a home in another city. It sat on the market for a year and a half. We paid two mortgages for that length of time. A few years before that we lost our family owned business. We ate through our savings, our kids college funds and put the rest of our money into a house that the downturn in the market swallowed up. We went from being middle class to on the edge of homeless.

* * *

I don’t share this info often because I don’t enjoy pity parties anymore. I’m not inviting you to one. I do, however, enjoy empathy parties with a healthy dose of encouragement. That is what this book is for. Encouragement. As I said before, I have talked to many adoptive families over the years and all of them have something in common- after the adoption comes the Job syndrome. Sometimes it’s years down the road. Sometimes, just months or days. It can come in different packages, loss of heath for parent or child, loss of finances, behavior issues, trouble attaching,_________(fill in the blank). The Job syndrome is a whole book in itself, I’ll keep it brief your sake, you get the picture, right? (This is redundant.)

* * *

Christmas has needs. It needs us to step outside of our everyday stress and receive it.

* * *

That is difficult to do when we are full of worry and the weight of the world on our shoulders. So, how do we accept the gift of Christmas when we cannot buy our children the gifts we want to? Or buy the groceries we need to make the traditional dinner? How do we meet Christ in the morning when we are so weighed down and depressed we cannot get out of bed? How do we celebrate when our children from hard places have had every trigger activated and are out of control?

* * *

Biblical Application:

1. Accept your now.

You may not be where you want to be financially or physically, just remember a healthy part of getting on the right path is enjoying something in your now that you can remember later. Play games with your kids. Cut out paper snowflakes. Sing Christmas carols. Make gifts.  Watch for points of connection and behaviors you want to encourage. Mention them aloud to your children. Before you know it, you will have a pocket full of wonderful memories. The kids won’t remember the lean years as much as they remember the celebration.

* * *

2. Prepare for your future now.

I’m not talking about getting a financial plan. Those are great, but the bottom can fall out of those too. Ask me. I know. I’m talking about your heart. If you believe your child will always struggle or always make things a struggle then it will become reality. Instead, look for pinpricks of light and believe that God is doing a great work in the child that He put in your care. Instead of thinking that your Christmases will always be full of lack and need, focus on the blessings you have. Thank the Father for them. Often. Keep a list or a thankful tree (it doesn’t have to be November to do this). This is heart preparation for the future blessings. It makes things well with your soul.

* * *

3. Rest in HIM.

I can’t say this often enough. I do say it often because the Lord leads me to verses often that hi-light REST. His rest is not the same as ours. It’s not vegging in front of the TV ignoring the  issues, it’s digging deep into His word. It’s dialoguing with Him. Tell Him your concerns. Don’t just make requests. When you do, trust Him to supply. He will. The Christmas that was the most lean for us financially, friends of mine gave me gifts for my children that were perfect for them. We didn’t spend lots of money. We didn’t have it. We did celebrate. I bet if you asked my kids if they remember a ‘bad’ Christmas, they would say “NO!”The great thing about the need of Christmas is –

“You don’t have to make Christmas…..You can rest in Christ…..You can breathe easy in Christ.”- Ann Voskamp

Christmas needs us to rest in Christ.

*This is an excerpt from 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas An Advent Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents

It Had Better Not Be Perfect This Christmas!

Every year when the kids and I were putting up the Christmas tree, my Spock-like tendencies came out. Every candle had to be perfectly spaced. The ribbons had to be equal distance apart.  All the lights had to be white and homemade ornaments had to go on the back side of the tree. I wish I could go back in time and change those practices. I cannot. But, you can learn from my mistakes. Part of my habit was personality. Part perfectionism. I wanted the tree to be perfect. I’m not sure who the tree was being perfect for. It wasn’t for the kids. They would rather have popcorn and homemade ornaments. Colored lights.

* * *

The problem with perfect? It doesn’t help children. It leaves them wanting. It makes them feel as if they don’t measure up.

Happy Birthday.png

The last thing a child from a hard place needs is the expectation of perfectionism. They are wrapped in control that leaves them in manipulation mode. To add perfectionism to that scenario spells disaster. Instead we need flexibility. Fun. Willingness to bend. Willingness to bend down and see where they are and join them.

* * *

Biblical Application:

“In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down from heights of absolute being into time and space, down into humanity; down further still, if embryologists are right, to recapitulate in the womb ancient and pre-human phases of life; down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him.”- C.S. Lewis

Kids who have come from traumatic beginnings or kids who have just had a hard day need us to descend to their depths in order to help them ascend into joy.

* * *

This is the Christ-like Christmas act. This is not perfect. It is messy. It is not self serving. It is bowing down to serve.

* * *

It is paper chains strung across the living room. It is flour all over the floor when baking. It is globs of shapeless cookies with mountains of icing. It is sloppily wrapped gifts with half a yard of tape around them. It is falling asleep on the floor under the Christmas tree with a child who pops out of bed like a batch of popcorn. It is joy in imperfection. Bend down to bring those in your world up with you.

*This is an excerpt from 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas An Advent Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents

Don’t Expect the Christmas Season to be Free of Hardships

Don’t expect the Christmas season to be free of hardships.

A dear friend of mine died  around Christmas time. I won’t make this tip about it. The grief is fresh and private and yet I rejoice that she no longer suffers.

* * *

None of us knows the day or the hour when hardships or struggles will strike.

Life happens during the christMas season

At this time last year, I was running around with a heart monitor strapped to my chest and wires trailing out of my yoga pants, thanks to some heart issues. My eldest son, Damian,  fell and broke his elbow at work so we traipsed from doctor to specialist trying to get a good picture of what was going on inside his arm. I got home and jumped into son Hunter’s car to be whisked to the cardiologists and rip off the monitor before they locked the doors. (Wonder what the reading looked like that last hour.) Not what I planned to be doing during the countdown to Christmas.

* * *

The truth is- life happens during the Christmas season. We cannot put sickness on hold or plan not to have any tragedies. Struggles are not scheduled on your calendar app.

* * *

Our children from hard places know the drill. These children have already suffered hardships. They can get stuck in the expectation of devastation. It is our job to allow them to grieve, but not stay stuck in the pit. Tough job. Not impossible. When we have this mindset that Christ gave us – all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28) we can put struggles into perspective. Remember, this is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it. Give thanks. Not for the circumstance, but in the midst of it.

* * *

Biblical Application:

2 In those days it occurred that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that the whole[a]Roman empire should be registered.

2 This was the first enrollment, and it was made when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

3 And all the people were going to be registered, each to his own city or town.

4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the town of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

5 To be enrolled with Mary, his espoused (married) wife, who was about to become a mother.

6 And while they were there, the time came for her delivery,

7 And she gave birth to her Son, her Firstborn; and she wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room or place for them in the inn.

-Luke 2

The circumstances of the birth of our savior were probably not the Christmas that Mary and Joseph had envisioned. Fleeing to Egypt shortly after was probably not on their agenda either. Yet, they rejoiced. They celebrated. Mary pondered all of these things. There were gifts and songs sung by angels. There was great joy!

“Struggling and rejoicing are not two chronological steps, one following the other, but two concurrent movements, one fluid with the other.”- Ann Voskamp, The Greatest Gift

We parents must learn to rejoice and struggle at the same time for our children’s sake. We must teach them to cope and rejoice in the midst of circumstances. We can rejoice in one thing and grieve another at the same time. Nobody is asking us to ignore grief or pain. We don’t ask our children to either. We can rejoice in Christmas in the midst of pain. Hardships happen even at Christmas.

*This is an excerpt from 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas An Advent Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents.

You are NOT a Vending Machine

“This is what I want,” my son said as he flashed an expensive item before me. I saw the price first and the present second. Almost half my Christmas budget.

This was not my first Christmas with children or my  first Christmas with adopted children. I have learned the hard way that children from hard places sometimes want proof that someone loves them. Material proof. If you love me then you will buy me this pricey present, they challenge.

Material things are not eternal soul-fillers.

It was daughter, Audrey who reminded me of the important truth- I am not a vending machine (and neither are you). Christmas presents do show others that we love them, but they are not based on coins spent or love doled out in material measure. Each gift should fit the recipient and the budget of the giver. We Moms can easily throw our whole year’s budget when we feel compelled to love a child with the vending machine mentality.

* * *

The sad truth is no matter what we buy a child, it will never fill the need for love. Material things are not eternal soul-fillers.

* * *

The child may be happy for a moment, a week or a month, but eventually that vending machine need grows into greed. And greed is never satisfied. Greed never loves. Greed doesn’t affirm. Greed doesn’t hug or play board games or read books. Greed just cries for more.

So, this Christmas don’t fall into the vending machine trap. Fall into the loving, time-giving, affirming habit. Christmas gifts are not the purpose, they are the icing on the cake of Him who gave the perfect present-Himself.

*Excerpt from:

25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas (1)

Adoption is a Holy Mission and the Message of the Wisemen

Wisemen

Three young boys shuffled on the stage in bathrobes. They hovered in the background while shepherds, sheep and cows knelt before the baby-doll- Jesus in the manger. They seemed tacked on to the production, adding no value or having no major significance. Yet, nothing could be further from the truth. These Wisemen, who were not Jews, recognized Jesus, as King and Messiah.

“Where is He Who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the east at its rising and have come to worship Him.”

– Matthew 2:2

Who were these foreigners to say this child was valuable, deserving of life and praise? One who would replace Herod as King?

We commonly refer to the Magi as kings or Wisemen. They had taken the prophecies of the Messiah, studied and believed them wholeheartedly. They willingly sunk their time, talent and treasure into locating the child and offering him praise, thereby acknowledging His divinity and giving Jesus’ earthly parents confirmation, validation. It had likely been a few years since his birth and although Mary had pondered all of those things in her heart the night of His Holy birth, she may have been wondering as Jesus toddled around where God was. Joseph worked hard to provide. She took care of the household and may have had another child on the way.

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This short visit by the Wisemen stirred a nation and angered an earthly king (Herod). It brought forth a Job syndrome of sorts for Joseph and Mary and the nation of Israel.

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“Now after they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, Get up! [Tenderly} take the young child and His mother and flee to Egypt and remain there until I tell you [otherwise], for Herod intends to search for the child in order to destroy Him.”

– Matthew 2:13

A genocide began in their wake. Herod ordered all the male children (two years old and younger) in Bethlehem and surrounding territories to be put to death.

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Adoption is a holy mission..png

We adoptive parents may go through a Job syndrome of our own. Horrific things happen in the wake of our calling.

A year and a half after our adoption was final, 911 shook our nation to the core. Our  restaurant businesses went down hill as a result. People were afraid to go out to eat. They felt safer indoors. We had taken our children from a nation fresh from the dissolving of communism where fear and lack reigned. And now it was happening here (or at least we thought). Fear reigned.

We lost our businesses in the economic downturn that followed. We were forced to sell our home and one by one, our four restaurants. Our savings quickly depleted and we cried out to the Lord asking, why have you forsaken us? It hit hard.

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I didn’t want to suffer lack and more than that, I didn’t want my children to re enter the mindset of lack.

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In the midst of the bankruptcy I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome(CFS). I had suffered many of the symptoms since I was a child without a diagnosis. The stress of the situation made the disease rear it’s ugly head. Hubby took me to Pittsburgh to a specialist and I sat in an IV room weak, crying and questioning, why? we did what you told us to, Jesus!

Or maybe yours is just a daily battle. I get it. I understand. It’s hard to think your journey is holy when four of your seven kids spill their spaghetti dinner on the floor and you follow suit (true story). Are piles of dirty laundry holy? Or meltdowns when triggers are activated? Or your schedule is overloaded with doctor’s appointments and therapies?

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Adoptive parents may forget the holiness of the mission in the midst of the day to day trying to survive. The mission doesn’t lose its holiness or its value when kids are melting down, dishes are stacked in the sink and no one has clean underwear.

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The more I have served adoptive/foster families the more I find that the Job syndrome is pretty much one hundred percent guaranteed.

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Friends of ours who adopted from China had to sell the home they had just built and move to another state and begin again. New area. New church family. New home. All shortly after the adoption.

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Another friend of ours, foster mom of so many I lost count and adoptive mom of three, suffered health issues for years. She was convinced she had thyroid issues, doctors repeatedly told her it was in her head and she just needed to work harder at working out. Finally, a doctor followed through and listened. After some extensive tests, she was told she only had half a thyroid.

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There are many more stories I could tell you of families who suffered illness, financial loss, death of a child or fill in the blank. One thing I will say about all of these families, they didn’t turn around on the adoption/foster care road. These things may have happened anyway, you may be thinking. I don’t agree. When we are inactive, not pursuing our mission, the devil is content to leave us alone.

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If you want to know what is most valuable, look for what is most fought against, what is being battled most vehemently and violently profaned. When we march forward valuing life, there will be opposition.

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The Bible says to gird up the loins of your mind. That’s a simple way of saying prepare mentally before the battle. Put on the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation. Get out your sword of truth and write down and speak the truth, the word that is able to save your soul (your mind, will and emotions). Mary and Joseph had both had words to encourage them in their mission. Maybe you need a fresh one. Here it is. You are not alone. You have chosen to value what God values. Life. Family. Those are important to Him. You did hear His gentle whisper. What you are doing is holy. Hard, but holy. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.

We are also like the  Wisemen, walking in the footsteps of those who say each child is valuable. He is worth redeeming. Birth moms say this when they handed that swaddled one over to adoptive parents. This child deserves life. He has a purpose. You are serving that purpose when you step up to the plate day after day. Go YOU!

*This is an excerpt from:  25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas (1)