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Wokeness has Invaded Adoption

This is what holding a harvest of joy looks like. You can’t see in my face all the emotions that come into play here. I was exhausted after waiting years for our Hadassah to join our family. I had carried this dream in my heart for roughly 10 years before she was born. Have you ever been pregnant with a dream for a decade? It’s exhausting to keep hoping, praying, and never give up even when it looks hopeless. In this moment the Lord spoke to me, “it’s all worth it.” This is the face of joy, peace, and love. This daughter I had seen in my dreams for years and had wondered if she would look like that, I was now holding. Her heart beating next to mine. This is what fulfilled promise looks like.

I found out today that one of the largest adoption agencies in our nation, Bethany Christian Services, the agency that completed our home study, now wants to make this kind of adoption a thing of the past. Essentially they have bowed to the “woke” culture and decided it would be better for black children to languish in foster care waiting for a black family to adopt them than to be placed in the loving home of a white mom and dad. I’m not even mad about this development. I should be furious, instead, I’m incredibly sad. A sense of deep, gut-wrenching sadness washed over me at this news. Our home study agency, the one that wrote such amazing things about our family and our ability to care for our children has now decided that black children should not be raised by white parents.

God Places the Lonely in Families

When I read this story in Newsweek today (which I will link in the comments). My heart sank. Immediately I thought of the many biracial families I know personally. Many of them are white Momma’s and Daddy’s who have welcomed black children into their home. I’ve seen with my own eyes these children grow and thrive in the love and care of their white mom and dad. Psalm 68:6 says, “God places the lonely in families; he sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.” How we’ve seen this lived out in our own family! In God’s eyes, we are all His precious children. God has built our family and I am thankful for the kaleidoscope of colors in each of my children. How boring it would be if we were all exact copies of each other!

My verse while waiting for Hadassah was Psalm 126:5-6 Those who sow in tears WILL reap a Harvest of Joy. (paraphrase mine). God showed me her face in dreams multiple times, and years before she was born. Don’t tell me for a second that it’s a mistake she is part of our family! Her birth mom chose us to raise her, but long before she was even conceived God choose us to be her parents. He prepared our hearts and even gave me glimpses of what she would look like to confirm His promises. Now, this agency which holds the keys for many families in their adoption journey is closing those doors. It’s a shame to base adoption on race in any way! The needs of the child and if possible the wishes of the birth mother should be the #1 factor in adoption decisions.

A Weak Yes

If you know our story, then you know we have seven children and our youngest is adopted. That’s the short version. The longer version involves years of arguing with God about surrender, complaining about why His timeline was different than mine, and finally submitting to Him because His ways are better.

I didn’t set out to have a large family, in fact, I only really wanted three children. My husband and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary this year and I have to tell you a secret…… The last twenty years have NOT gone according to my plans. As I reflect on twenty years of marriage and more children than I intended on having I have to say this life has been better than anything I could have imagined. Follow Jesus and you’ll never be bored has become my motto. I am certainly NEVER bored! Most days there is so much do to that I don’t know where to begin. I will be the first to tell anyone how unqualified I feel to teach and train these little people in my care. Yet, God has seen fit to call me to this monumental task called motherhood.

Being a mom is a hard and often thankless job. Our work feels endless and monotonous. Moms do the hidden things that no one sees, and certainly don’t think to give thanks for. We do them out of obligation, but also out of love. Preparing and cleaning up from meals is not an easy task when there are nine hungry mouths to feed! Any mother who tells you her favorite part of the day is scrubbing the toilets and doing laundry and dishes is either delusional (Please rescue her and take her on a coffee date!) Or, she’s learned that as much as some tasks are unpleasant, they are a gift to her family and so she does them with joy.

We’ve forgotten that hard things can be full of joy. The lie of the culture is that the only way to find joy is to do the things that bring YOU fulfillment. The truth is, we can find joy in the most mundane and unpleasant tasks when we shift our gaze and change our perspective. I have this little decorative plate propped up by my kitchen sink. Engraved on it is this phrase; “You were made for this”. With seven children, I spend a LOT of time at that sink looking at that plate. I’ve learned that I have a choice in how I view my time there. It can be full of complaining, or full of thankfulness, and joy. A simple phrase sometimes isn’t enough to remind me of that calling. But, I’m glad it’s there because it brings me back every time to the weak yes I’ve given to Jesus over the years.

“You were made for this” and a cameo by our beta fish, ‘Doug’ He’s hiding in the coral.

Washing dishes can be an act of love. Making and serving a meal can show how thankful we are for the family God has surrounded us with. Even mounds and mounds of laundry can be a chance to remind ourselves how blessed we are, (thank God we have clothes to wear!). But in all seriousness, it is all about perspective. When I said “yes” to the Lord in the area of family size, I wasn’t thinking about the laundry, or dishes, or how much food I would have to keep on hand (at this moment we have four teenagers living here! They are like bottomless pits and consume a ton of food!). When I said yes to the Lord, sometimes reluctantly, I was saying yes to His ways, and plans which are higher than mine. I was saying, even though it won’t always be fun, I want to do all You have called me to.

Motherhood is a calling. One I stepped into with just a weak yes, but God has taken that weak yes and blessed me beyond anything I ever dreamed. Sometimes all He’s asking is for a weak yes. For us as daughters of the King to step out of our comfort zone and step into the very thing He made us for. For me, it’s raising world changers. Maybe for you, it’s some other task you feel ill-prepared and unqualified for. If I’ve learned one thing in this journey it’s that God doesn’t call the qualified, but He certainly qualifies those He calls. He’s just waiting for us to say Yes.

Battered and Bruised

Last night I fell down the stairs at home.  Now before you get concerned and wonder if this is a cry for help, let me assure you…It’s not.  I’m just terribly clumsy.  I was wearing socks, and my socks slipped, I missed the first step and I proceeded to slide down the next 5 bumping along as I went.  My tailbone (which I fractured as a child during an unfortunate trampoline incident) took the brunt of the fall.  Thanks, tailbone!  I was a little shaken after the tumble and knew I would be sore in the morning.  This morning I woke up and everything hurts; back, shoulders, and yes tailbone.  Sitting today will be a challenge, but so will standing, cooking, and laundry.  As I began to look at the day ahead and start to complain to God for my weakness and lack of coordination I was quickly reminded of a time when someone I had yet to meet was willingly battered and bruised for me. 

Jesus went to the cross for me.  For my sins, because of His great love.  I don’t know that there is anyone I would willingly fall down a set of stairs for, except maybe my own children.  Yet, what Jesus endured was much more painful than some slight soreness from a little tumble.  Then it hit me like a slap in the face, yet this revelation had been there all along.  Jesus did that for me, and for you because family is His desire.  The kind of love that I would only show to my children, Jesus has shown to all humanity because His desire is that we become family.  This concept of being a daughter of the King of Kings is something I’ve been taught in church my whole life but didn’t really grasp until I brought home my adopted daughter. 

Galatians 4:4-7 says: “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.  Because you are his sons, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”  So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” 

A friend recently asked me, “How did adoption change your faith?”  Adoption has opened my eyes to a love that before was only theoretical but now has become my daily reality.  Every morning I greet my sweet daughter who did not grow in my womb and ask her, “How was your sleep?”  I don’t for a second look at her and think that she is somehow less than or that she isn’t a full member of our family.  She may look different but in my eyes, she is a full heir.  Before we adopted, my husband and I worked on some things with a local estate planner just to make sure everything was in order.  One of those things was a living will.  Even before we brought home Hadassah we made sure there was language in that legal document that would guarantee any children added to our family whether biological or adopted would receive a full share of any inheritance we might have.  Not only in our hearts but in the eyes of the law she is a “full heir”.  So when we brought her home and I read that passage from Galatians 4, I was overwhelmed with the revelation that I too am a full heir with Christ. 

I am adopted!  This is not a negative.  Many times throughout history adoption has been looked at as a negative.  It’s been something that has hidden in the shadows.  Adoptive parents sought children who were the same race and they purposely kept the child’s true identity a secret from those children.  This lead to feelings of being an outsider or outcast by those children when they became adults and found the truth.  I am thankful that much of the old way of doing adoption has changed, but I feel the negative connotations persist.  If we look with the eyes and heart of the Father we can very clearly see, adoption is anything but negative!  Jesus was battered and bruised, and ultimately died in the most excruciatingly painful of ways simply to bring us into his family.  Adoption is costly!  For us that looked like time and money, for Jesus it was His life.  Adoption is redemption.  Simply put, the Gospel is an adoption story.  God loves humanity so much that he gave His only son to take the punishment for us so we can come close.  We are not second best, but full heirs with Christ.  Adopted means chosen, loved, and valued.  Jesus paid a high price to rescue me, and I will spend my life pouring out my love for Him.  I can think of no better way to spend my days.  I am adopted and loved.  I am a daughter of the King. 

Livin’ the Dream, Literally!

        Livin’ the Dream is such a cliché.  In general, I despise clichés.  I remember a children’s literature class I took in college and the professor was so opposed to clichés that she told us upfront if we used them in our papers she would automatically give us a zero on the assignment.  Ouch!  That’s harsh.  Maybe my dislike of clichés goes back to that experience. 

        So how in the world did we choose what is perhaps the biggest cliché of all time as the title for my new book?  It’s a funny story actually, and the title came out of a completely unrelated conversation between my husband and me. 

        This message of dreaming with God has been burning in my heart for several years!  After we adopted and brought home our dream of a daughter that God had been showing me for over a decade in dreams in the night, my husband said, “You need to write a book.”  I think in the beginning I just thought he was tired of me sharing all the insights I was getting from God on dreaming.  As time went on, however, and I started the writing process there was so much to share.  When I sat down that first day to write I really wasn’t convinced there would be enough for a full book.  I thought maybe I can just write a blog post or an article.  This is only going to be enough to fill a small pamphlet, not a book!  Amazingly to even me, as I set my heart before God and asked, “What do you want to share with Your bride?”  The words flowed and before I knew it, I had written nearly 40,000 words. 

        The writing came easy because this message had been building in my heart for so long it wasn’t difficult to get the words on paper.  The title, however, was a struggle!  For about 2 years I had a “working title”.  I didn’t love it, but it was all I had.  I actually shelved the book for almost a year because I didn’t have a title I felt adequately expressed the message of the book.  During this time I began asking God to give me a title.  If this truly was a message He wanted me to share with the church, I wanted the title to be a good representation of that.  So for almost a year, I asked God, show me what the title should be.  Give me a dream, scripture, anything!  I was beginning to feel a tad desperate while at the same time wondering why I ever bothered to start writing in the first place.  A book without a title isn’t going anywhere. 

        Then one day my husband and I were driving home from a wedding.  We were just talking about life in general, the kids, what commitments and activities we had that week.  When out of nowhere he said, “You are living your dreams.”  I kind of laughed and said, “yeah literally!”.  It only took a moment for me to realize that’s the title of my book. 

        When I say I’m “Livin’ the Dream”, I don’t mean it in the same way as most people.  For most people, it is nothing more than a cliché.  They will sarcastically joke about a hard job that they don’t enjoy and say, “I’m livin the dream.”  It’s cliché and sarcasm.  When I say it, it’s not cliché.  I mean it literally.  I have had dreams in the night where God showed me glimpses of His plan for our family years before those plans came into being.  Today, I am living in the reality of those dreams.  My greatest hope and prayer through this project is that those who read the book will be encouraged to pay attention to the dreams in the night.  That they too will experience what it is to live your dreams.  Not just your dreams of things you desire, but that thing you were created for.  The plans and purposes of God for you.  He formed you in your mother’s womb and set a purpose for you before you took your first breath.  Grab hold of those dreams, and experience the joy and fullness of living in purpose. 

Be Kind

                We just started a history unit on the Civil Right Movement.  Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and other heroes of this dark time in our nation’s history.  I remember growing up learning about these people and thinking, “That’s ancient history.”  I felt it was horrible how African American’s were treated in the 1950’s and 60’s but as a child I also felt, or maybe was conditioned to think that we had gotten over that period of history and all was well.  I grew up in the 1980’s, at the time I didn’t really have a solid understanding of just how close we were to that time period, only 30 years prior people with dark skin were not allowed to drink out of the same drinking fountain as me and my brothers.  This injustice didn’t really resonate with me until recently. 

                Four years ago we adopted our daughter.  She is amazing!  She has the spunkiest personality, she is friendly and will eagerly talk to anyone!  She also just happens to be African American.  There are many things about our nation’s history that I never really had to think about until I had a daughter who looked different than me.  My biological children will not have to be taught the same things I will have to teach her.  Of course I will teach all my children to respect others, to obey the laws and to speak kindly to police officers, but my daughter will get an extra dose of how to interact in certain situations.  Has our nation grown and improved since the 1950’s?  Yes!  And I thank God for that, but bias still exists and there is still some distrust of the black community from the white community in our nation today.  In my position as a white mom of a black daughter I feel I often straddle this divide. 

Our community has largely accepted our family.  I’ve been out with my daughter plenty of times in the community and have never been mistreated, but I can’t help but wonder how she will be treated by others when she is older and I’m not with her in public.  How will others see her when she shops at Target as a teenager without me by her side?  Will the security guard follow her through the store, suspecting her of being a shoplifter?  Will other shoppers avoid her in the aisles?  I don’t know the answer to these big questions, but as a mom I can’t help but ask them.  I pray in ten years when my daughter is old enough to be out in public without me by her side that we will see even greater acceptance of African Americans in our nation.  I’ve seen glimpses of this glorious day.  I’m daily seeing the evidence of a growing diversity in my home town. 

Just because we are seeing improvement doesn’t mean we can forget the past or that we should think of it as ancient history.  The truth is there are people who are still alive today who lived through the segregation of the 1950’s and 60’s.  Yesterday I read to my kids about Ruby Bridges who was the first black child to attend an all-white school after segregation ended.  The picture in our book is in black and white, but shows a sweet looking six year old girl walking out of a school building escorted by three guards!  Why in the world would a six year old need guards to escort her to and from school?  The hatred was so tangible in the south at this time that the guards were sent for HER protection from the angry mob of mostly adults who didn’t want her attending school with their children.  What a statement about the culture of our nation at the time.  When adults are threatening children simply because of their skin color.  It is a sad time period in our nation.  Even as we discussed this great injustice and how wrong it was for people to have been treated that way.  We discussed how far we’ve come as a nation yet, how we still have a ways to go, I still felt a tad bit detached from this time period.  It’s hard to have an understanding of history that happened before your lifetime. 

Then last night I saw a post from a friend about Ruby Bridges.  She is alive today!  She turned 65 this year.  She’s only 65.  My mother in law is 65.  Suddenly everything is brought into perspective.  This may have happened before I was born, but it is NOT as ancient history as I once thought.  I’ve heard it said that those who don’t know their history are bound to repeat it.  Those are wise words and are the perspective that guides how and why I teach accurate history to my kids.  I don’t want to sugar coat even the hard things.  We’ve discussed the gas chamber of Nazi Germany, the slave trade, and more recent atrocities like abortion.  My kids that I’m homeschooling are currently in third and fifth grade.  I make sure to make the lessons age appropriate, but I don’t want to give them a false sense of pride in our nation, or avoid the yucky parts of history.  We’ve done some pretty horrible things to our fellow man in this nation and throughout world history. 

The only solution for a hurting world is Jesus.  I also take these type of hard lessons and point the lesson back to Jesus as the only solution to these very big problems.  Racial reconciliation is a process.  There has been HUGE improvements, but there are still hurting people alive today who had to live through these dark days.  May we never forget the hard roads they had to walk as we move forward in kindness, seeking to bring the love of Jesus to a hurting world.  We should take each day with this mindset, be kind, you don’t know the battles others are facing.