Spirited Sunday: “Wall of Fame”

One of my favorite things about Christmas is receiving cards and newsletters.  I like to see what is going on with friends and family, and I love to get new pictures!
Right now, the cards hang above my kitchen cabinets, but when Christmas is over, I take them down and save the photos.  Although it is nothing fancy, I have a special bulletin board for all of the pictures — my “Wall of Fame”.  As we go through the year, I enjoy looking at the pictures and remembering.  I also use the pictures to remind me to pray for specific friends and family!
What do you do with the Christmas cards you receive?

handmade projects

Spirited Sunday: Mom Heart Conferences

The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ's Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our ChildrenLast winter, a group of us went through Sally Clarkson’s The Ministry of Motherhood: Following Christ’s Example in Reaching the Hearts of Our Children.  It is an inspiring book on our role as mothers.  When I’m feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, I like to pick up this book and be reminded how important my job is and how God will strengthen me for the task.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough!  She has several other books I own and love as well:   The Mission of Motherhood: Touching Your Child’s Heart for Eternity and Educating The WholeHearted Child (which is currently being revised and will be republished early next year)!  A friend has also recommended Seasons of a Mother’s Heart.

Over the next few months, Sally Clarkson will be speaking at four conferences entitled My Mom Heart Matters – Reclaiming Motherhood, Shaping the Future.  The two-day conference will encourage and inspire you!

Four locations include:
January 21-22: Colorado Springs, CO
February 4-5: Irvine/OC, CA
February 18-19: Irving/DFW, TX
March 4-5: Raleigh/Durham, NC

If you live anywhere close to these locations, I would encourage you to check the conference out!  If I could, I’d be there in a heartbeat!  Sally is so passionate about communicating how much mothering matters!!

Spirited Sunday: National Adoption Month

In awareness of National Adoption Month, I’ve asked my friend Amy to share with you.  Amy and her husband have adopted four children, and I love her heart!  She is so passionate — and I think you’ll be challenged by her post.
Disclaimer: My writing, like my garage storage room isn’t always neat, orderly or labeled. I wish it were, but I move forward both in my storage system and in my writing style in a rabbit-trail style that tends to pepper my thinking and my home-organization (or lack thereof).
Disclaimer #2: Please know — I don’t love the word “orphan”. I think it’s vague, and it’s also one of those words that represent a reality that I don’t like and so I try and steer clear of “orphan” in my everyday speech. So, writing about “Orphan Sunday” makes me cringe a little. This is not a criticism of those who would educate us on the orphan’s plight — just that I wish this wasn’t such a ginormous reality.
Let me explain — Webster’s defines orphan in this way:

Definition of ORPHAN

1: a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents
2: a young animal that has lost its mother
3: one deprived of some protection or advantage
4: a first line (as of a paragraph) separated from its related text and appearing at the bottom of a printed page or column

             — orphan adjective

or·phan·hood-ˌhu̇d noun

And? Well? What is my issue?
It seems that the definition of orphan is a bit broader when we talk about “Orphan Sunday” and the missive of the church in James 1:27. Since the earthquake in Haiti (when my twin boys aged 2 and daughter of 5 came home), I have been asked if my children are “true” orphans or not. (I bristle at the question- not sure how to answer that within earshot of my kiddos.) It’s been a year of introspection on international adoption- on WHY I ever adopted in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, after the earthquake in Haiti- when our kiddos, now ages 3,3 and 6 came home- our household expanded to 8! Our children are ages 3,3,3,6,6 and 8. WHAT? Did I type that correctly? Yes, I did. We are so blessed! And our home is so full at the same time! In any given hour we experience absolute harmony, love and blessings – and various escapades of attempted sibling homicide. It’s heaven, and it’s berserk, all at once. Call me at home, you’ll see! Because of this madness, I definitely think my results are “not typical.”
But, I digress… I think a broader definition of orphan would certainly fall under category #3 in Webster’s- when a “first family” or birth family cannot provide for their offspring in terms of their means, social support, or protection. What I’m getting at…. I think God intended that first families (birth families) would be the forever family of children. When my Hope Darwine prays for her birth parents, I cry and pray right alongside her. I do hope, in earnest, that her birth parents are well and that they know the Lord. My heart thinks that God feels this way millions of times over for His children.
Whatever the reason – whether sin, poverty, corruption, population “planning” or natural disaster – there are an estimated 143 million orphans in the world today. (I did not count them personally, I stole that number from the UN and http://www.cryoftheorphan.org/).
143 million children do not have access to adequate water, nutrition, shelter, education, clothing, or are free from human trafficking sex/slave trade; some – but not all – of these children have lost parent(s), and do not have other family support. This includes approximately 463,000 children in the US foster care system (http://www.childwelfare.gov/pubs/factsheets/foster.cfm) and an estimated 13 million children worldwide whom have lost both parents.
And – if that number didn’t move your stomach in a flip-flop, did you know that in 2005 it was estimated of the 3+ billion people on the planet — almost half – HALF (!!) lived on less than $2.50/US dollars a day? But, hey, ya’ll- I’m not gonna lie, I spent $2.37 at Starbucks the morning I wrote this post — this is not a ”finger in your nose” kind of exhortation- it’s just a reminder of HOW wealthy we are – when we examine our relative wealth compared with our global counterparts. (http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats)

So, what then?
Well, I don’t know.I know that I love this thought:

Luke 10:29-37

29But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead.

31″And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side.

32″Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.

33″But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion,

34and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.

35″On the next day he took out two denarii gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’

36″Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?”

37And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”

Mercy.  It comes down to what your heart and the leading of the Holy Spirit is calling you to do.
Check out this post, from the brilliant & lovely Kristen Howerton on groovy ways you can help out without committing to something you are not called/able to do:  The title is “What Can You Do”- and it is an exhaustive list! http://www.rageagainsttheminivan.com/2010/10/what-you-can-do.html
Mother Teresa spoke it very well when she said:

“I never look at the masses as my responsibility; I look at the individual. I can only love one person at a time – just one, one, one. So you begin. I began – I picked up one person. Maybe if I didn’t pick up that one person, I wouldn’t have picked up forty-two thousand….The same thing goes for you, the same thing in your family, the same thing in your church, your community. Just begin – one, one, one.”
My thought is that none of us can save them all. Realistically, none of us can, nor do we need to save them all. Rather, I would encourage you to think, pray, talk to your (spouse and/or) family and friends – and see what you can do – anything from supporting a family – (babysitting for a few hours, so a “first family” can be successful in their home without relinquishing their children for adoption) to becoming a “Lunch Buddy” in the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program to considering foster care or adoption…..

every. little. bit. helps.
Remember, it just means we do what we can to help where we can. In the words of Mother Teresa, “just one.
*As an aside- with the amazing internet, there are sooo many ways you can support “first families” in developing countries.
Free trade is a concept where the purchaser pays fair market price for a good and microloan is a concept where goods or small start up funds are given to a producer (usually in a developing country) so that they may create income.
Two of my FAVORITE free trade/microloan programs (just in time for Christmas shopping, girl!) are these:
1. www.haitiancreations.com – you can’t buy online right now- but you can sign up for a purse party- they are easy, fun and adorable purses. One purse sold supports a woman and her family for a month. (Guess what I’m giving every lady on my list?) It just feels good!
2. http://www.ssekodesigns.com – gorgeous handmade sandals, created by women in Uganda whose employment directly impacts their enrollment in secondary level education. I think these shoes are beautiful!
Other ideas under construction– my favorite schoolmaster, Norbert Phillipe is seriously committed to rebuilding his school in Port-au-Prince. I would sell a kidney to help him get this thing underway, if that were actually feasible. He is a man we met in 2009 (before the earthquake) and he is truly unique- he loves Jesus passionately, owns his own school (without loans or government support) and has serious “street-cred” with the youth in Petionville. (Ok, I have to say that writing “youth” makes me sound so very old.) You can see pictures and learn more at: Give Hope To Haiti/ **Note, this last part is a shameless plug for project, website and school we are personally interested in rebuilding. World Wide Village is partnering with Norbert, and all deductions are tax-deductible.
I blog, quite sporadically at Life is Good and a Little Crazy.  It’s never the same thing from day to day- a blog of our journey of adoption, the “symphony” of silliness that is in our home, and our own heartbreak for Haiti. That said, I haven’t posted for a few weeks- sometimes I just go a little silent for a while.
Thanks for reading my thoughts on “Orphans” and the bigger picture. I’m so glad Stacie let me share!
With all my heart,Amy Glover

Spirited Sunday: Orphan Sunday

Today, I’ve asked a friend of mine to share for Orphan Sunday.  She has an incredibly passionate heart for orphans, and I’m praying God will use her to inspire you!
It’s Orphan Sunday! Thanks, Stacie for inviting me to be your guest blogger today.  I love talking about adoption and all the cool ways God is moving in the midst of the orphan crisis in our world.  Stacie asked me to share a bit of that with you because I have adopted three children of my own (with dreams of more) and because I love to encourage people to consider what God might be asking them to do.
First things first, here are my wonderful kiddos: Chloe is from India, Michael was born in the U.S. of Hispanic and Arabic heritage, Josie is Chinese and Molly is homegrown.

Aren’t they adorable?  And just think there are over 140 million more in need of a forever family.  That number is unimaginable, isn’t it?  Now I can just hear you saying, “That’s great for you; not for me” and that may be spot on.  But caring for orphans isn’t an option.  James 1:27 tells us pure and faultless religion is, in part, to look after orphans and widows in their distress.  The big question is how?  What am I supposed to do?  No doubt some of us reading this are being asked to step up to the plate and adopt.  But everyone reading this is asked to do something.  I’d love to offer a few ideas about those fears and give lots of ideas as to how to help!
Let’s hit the fears first.  I’ve heard a lot of them…felt some of them too.  What if I don’t love her as much as my biological children?  What if he has too many problems?  How do I teach her about her origins?  I’m afraid of traveling to a third world country.  I don’t have the money.  Is it fair to my other children?  I’m too old.  What if he grows up resenting me or having been adopted?  I’m too young.  How will the extended family respond?  People will think I’m crazy.  I’m too busy.  We have to pay for college for the children we already have.
Have I hit on yours?  I certainly don’t have the wisdom or space here to answer all of our fears, but I do know where to point you.  Long ago I learned that fear is the absence of faith.  Ouch!  That hits me time and again.  But it’s so true. Bonding (those feelings of love) can be instantaneous or develop over time, just like with a baby who’s born into the family.  But it is God who first loves and then our love flows out of that.  My friends who work with the organization Hope for Orphans and who have adopted four children from foster care (and had a few heartbreaks along the way) are fond of saying they are doing it for the child, not for themselves.  The orphan is their focus, not their comfort.  As for adjustment, the statistics for the adopted child are encouraging.  There are numerous adoption grants available and the tax credit which sure help.  But the truth is, if God is calling you to do it, the problems are His to work out.  You just have to take the first step.  I wish I had room to tell you the ways God provided for us financially with grants, tax breaks, good stewardship and gifts from family and friends.
There are also really good resources out there by Hope for Orphans and books such as The Connected Child to help you through the bumps.  I’ve asked my children, “would you rather have your college paid or rescue another child from an orphanage?”  Children can easily see the big picture.  I don’t want God to ever show me a child He intended for me to help and me to realize too late I said no. 
Need more inspiration?  I asked a few friends to share their first meeting pictures with you.

Pictures really do speak a thousand words, don’t they?

But for those of us who are looking for a way to make a difference in the life of an orphan aside from adopting, where to begin? This part is cool. God is stirring up His people and they are doing some very good things.

The list could go on and on. But here are two you can do sitting right where you are:

1) take an hour and watch “Answer the Cry” hosted by Francis Chan just for Orphan Sunday (look for the “click here to watch now at the bottom of the page)

2) explore the website of Hope for Orphans and order either the booklet entitled “Eight Steps to Adoption”($3 or you may download it free) or the book, Launching an Orphans Ministry in Your Church ($10). 

The orphan crisis is huge.  But it is not beyond the God’s reach through the church.  Please, do your part. Take the first step!

“But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand.  The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”   Psalm 10:14 (NIV)

-Selena Riddle