Sunday, March 09, 2014

13 Years of Motherhood and Mission

MOTHERHOOD:  Thirteen years ago today, I became a mother.  The most important purpose of my life, fulfilled.  [Feminists, roll your eyes if you must.]  I was created to be a mother.  I wasn't one of those girls who ever questioned whether I would have children; I only questioned how many, and through what means. 

I was ready to start creating our family as soon as we were married; the earlier the better!  So after two years when it hadn't happened, you can imagine my sadness and frustration.  Two years of the "young married" class at church.  ALL those baby showers to suffer through, trying to genuinely be happy for my friends but then crying myself to sleep at night because it wasn't "my turn." 
When we learned of our infertility, there was no question of whether we would try to go to extraordinary means to create life.  When the doctor told us we had a 5% chance through infertility measures, through tears we said, "That's okay.  We will adopt."  That was in our plan for family building anyway.  The big whammy was when the quack of a doctor told us that "Oh, nobody would allow you to adopt.  With your husband's health issues and you being overweight, you would never qualify."
THIS was a new concept.  Not being able to become a mother?  What?  No.  I had a very fearful next several hours, but was reassured QUICKLY by the new fangled internet-thingy that international adoption would be a great choice for us.  YES!  Motherhood, here I come!
And then it did.  Thirteen years ago today.  I met my daughter. And my heart grew two sizes bigger.  I felt it.  As I lay her on my chest for the first time, for that first nap together, I felt it.  A literal pain.  Whether it was my heart breaking or growing I cannot say for sure.  Maybe both.  That day motherhood began, and so did my mission.
MISSION:  I never realized I would hurt so badly for my daughter's biological family.  It never occurred to me that I would mourn the loss of country and culture for my daughter.  I was young and na├»ve and nobody mentioned even the remote possibility of these things to me.  But as she raged in my arms over all she was losing, I raged with her.  I remember crying with her on our fancy hotel room balcony.  And I think it was in that moment that the Lord God planted my life's mission within my heart.
When I was 17 years old I felt a call upon my life to be a Foreign Missionary.  It was as real a "call" and experience as I have ever felt.  I do not question it.  And then I married a Type I Diabetic that is legally blind with kidney issues.  How does that fit with foreign missions?  I didn't know, but I went on with life, and became a mom.  That seemed more important.  In becoming a mom, the "foreign" part came closer to me.
Cambodia was within me.  Cambodia's people plagued my soul.  At that time the term "family preservation" hadn't been coined (I don't think??) but certainly, that was at the heart of the matter.  It was at this time, 13 years ago, that my mind was opened to the realities of the developing world.  A passion like fire spread in me and I remember BEGGING God to open doors for me--the RIGHT doors.  He did.  And within the year I was helping others people adopt and involved in humanitarian aide for the first time.  Bulgaria.  Haiti.  Vietnam....the world became smaller again.
In 2006, Ghana entered my life.  Like Cambodia, Ghana and its people entered my heart in an all-encompassing way.  It wasn't just about adopting my child.  It was so much more.  How could the Lord use me to help the people there KEEP their children rather than lose them to conditions of poverty?  Oh, the burning in my heart!  It's now 8 years later and the passion continues.  Now, through Eban Project, the Lord has opened doors that are closer to the "foreign missions" call He put on me so many years ago.  Eventually, I believe I will stop being an "armchair missionary" and start being a true foreign missionary for Him.  But not now.  Not as long as He allows me to keep my dear husband.
Thirteen years.  Of motherhood, ever changing.  Of mission, ever growing.  Of family, ever filling.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Couldn't do it without you...

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.  Philippians 2:13

I went to my mom's house this weekend to celebrate Christmas with her and the rest of our family.  It's our tradition to celebrate the weekend before Christmas with her.  Our kids even think Santa comes twice when they're young because he comes once to Grandma's house and once to our house (not that I at all encourage the belief in Santa, but that's another post and I won't get on my soapbox now)!  Eric and I are always there to help my mom finish up wrapping, stuff the (14) stockings, do last minute cooking, etc..  We DO get to sleep (unlike my mom who usually pulls an all-nighter) but it's normally 2-4am before we head to bed.  Anyway, my mom was thanking us and saying, "I couldn't do it without you" before we left.  That was the perfect way to begin this post.
We couldn't do it (this time of being unemployed) without you.  Our friends and family who have supported us through the past few months with your prayers, words of encouragement, and various gifts of support.  You have allowed the Lord to work though you to keep us afloat.
Because of the friends and family I have, and the enlightened things you say just because of who you are, I have had very few truly "down" days since October 11th when Eric got laid off.  When he first notified me of what happened, it felt like the world shifted from under my feet and I thought, "How are WE going to do this."  That's the place I was in at the time.  I was focused on US; OUR abilities, OUR money, OUR job.  It was so completely out of focus, but I didn't realize it at the time.  I had a relationship with the Lord, a close one.  But I was leaning on our bank account to survive much more than I was leaning on Him.  Our entire family was.
It didn't take long to begin seeing the good side of unemployment.  One of the great things about adoption is that you can do nothing but lean on the Lord.  It doesn't take long to figure out that the entire process is completely illogical and without God one might just go crazy.  We haven't adopted in four years now, and haven't had that "hold on tight because here we go" need since then.  Our family has been in this awesome place of growth and comfortableness (ya know, minus all the health stuff!).  So this job loss has given us the OPPORTUNITY to remember how truly wonderful it is to lean on the Lord for our daily bread; in this case both literally and figuratively.  There is a certain excitement in that that's hard to describe.  I suppose it must be how missionaries feel much of the time.
I don't know if the Lord saw a shift in our hearts or what, but it wasn't long before HE began to provide, through YOU.  And I'm talking about in a physical bill-paying, food-providing way.  One of the most astounding aspects of this experience has been seeing how the Lord has provided through friends that we would have *never* expected to give so generously to us.  Let me just make it clear that we in no way equate the goodness of a friend with whether or not they have sent a financial blessing to us in this time of need.  That's the thing.  The Lord didn't send these gifts from the "usual suspects."  Rather, He laid it on the hearts of dear people who are our friends, but not necessarily the people I would call on and cry on their shoulders when I'm having a bad day.  To make it more amazing, these have not typically been people with big bank accounts themselves.  These facts have made it so very clear that it is all FROM GOD.  These are God's people, being obedient to His call to provide for another brother and sister in Christ.  Amazing to us.  Even though we knew and had faith that He would provide for us some way, to see it done in this way has been so very humbling and inspiring.  To hear, "We had X money and God really laid it on our hearts that we were to give you and Eric X portion of it."  Wow.  Thank you obedient servants.
Are we out of the woods?  Not by a long shot.  Every month we are thousands of dollars short on being able to pay our bills.  But thanks to the Lord, through you, we were able to keep food on the table until we got food stamps.  [And wow--now food stamps are SUCH a blessing.]  Thanks to the gifts we have received, we were able to pay some bills, which freed up other money.  Now our children will have gifts on Christmas morning that are pretty much in keeping with other years.  We didn't at all expect for that to be the case!  Not a need in any way, but it's nice to give them some wants after many weeks of just getting by.  They are blessed by you.
We anticipate that this season will come to an end soon after the new year. [No job offer yet, but some possibilities.]  And while we will rejoice in Eric's ability to once again provide for our family, there will actually be some bitter-sweet aspects to him returning to work and our family not "living on the edge" anymore.  When asked what Kendi was most thankful for, she said, "I am thankful that we get to see Daddy now and he doesn't have to work late."  She shares all of our thoughts that it has been a blessing to have Eric/Daddy home for an extended time!  The children are much closer to their dad than they were before.  Seeing my children come back down to earth; realizing that certain things are special, not expected; and learning how to budget much more carefully--that has been a blessing.  It will be wonderful to be out of financial crisis, but I will also miss that feeling one has when you MUST depend on God for your survival.  It's special.  The key will be remembering that I always MUST depend on God for our survival, even when it might appear otherwise.
Thank you my friends.  We couldn't get through this without you; without your willingness to be obedient even when it makes no earthly sense. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blessed Each Day: The Word of God

My family likes to listen to audio books when we're traveling back and forth to Wichita to visit my parents.  A few months ago my mom gave us an audio book about a missionary couple that was kidnapped and ransomed in the Philippines back in 2001.  In the Presence of My Enemies by Gracia Burnham  A captivating and much recommended book.
As we listened to the horrors this couple went through for over a year, in the hands of their muslim captors, one thing became stunningly clear.  More than soap, more than proper clothes, more than medical care, more even than food...what this couple missed most was their Bible.  The Word of God.  All they had was what was committed to memory, and the few passages that made it to them in letters over the months of their captivity.
Can you imagine?  I really don't think most American can even imagine it.  We walk in from church every Sunday and plunk our Bible down on the table.  Or maybe it goes on a certain shelf not to be picked up until the following Sunday morning.  Maybe we have one Bible for couples, another for our gender, another for serious study, and another "general" one for church.  Bibles, Bibles, everywhere!  We make little jokes about every hotel and motel room having a Bible in the nightstand drawer.  Many people in my church (a GREAT church that I love) don't even bring a Bible anymore.  Why?  You can read the Bible on your phone screen or on the big projector screen in service.  Why carry the book with you?
What the Burnham family, kidnapped in the Philippines wouldn't have given for one chapter...  What so many orphans and poverty-stricken Christian families in Ghana and other Christian nations wouldn't give to have ONE Bible in their own language.  Precious words of God.
If you're like me (and maybe you're not) you take your Bible for granted far too often.  I just assume it will always be there.  I can refer to it whenever I want, in a myriad of different ways.  Oh, how blessed I am to live in a place where I have the luxury to EVER take the Bible for granted.  Ever.
After hearing the Burnham's story, and contemplating the situation of so many others without the luxury of even a complete Bible, a complete book, or chapter...I am resound in my commitment to never take it as granted again.  Bibles aren't allowed in Brunei.  Underground churches in China aren't even allowed to own Bibles.  Instead, several members hide a chapter or two here or there in their homes, hoping to make a complete Bible as a church.  In Iran, you can be put to death for owning a Bible. {source:}
Yes, I am blessed, each day, by the Word of God.

He is Here

Oh. My. Word.  This blessed me so much when I heard it this morning in church.  Hoping it blesses you too!