Being Saved…

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I am a Christian. I believe that I am saved and that after this life I will live eternally in Heaven. I keep finding myself in discussions about what “salvation” means and this morning I woke up with this post circling around in my head.

I’ll be honest. I’ve had more than one existential crisis in my life. The most recent was only seven or eight years ago. We were in a church with unhealthy leadership, I was grieving the many losses in a very short period of time, my husband was under federal investigation for something he did not do, and I was dealing with the reality of parenting a very broken and destructive little girl that I had been certain God wanted us to adopt. I was angry with God. I was disappointed. I was scared. I had no hope. And I began to question everything I had ever believed about my faith. If you’re in the middle of your own existential crisis, let me offer you some hope. You’re in the right place!

When I found myself at the lowest, scariest, most desperate time of my life, I made a conscious decision to start seeking truth from the Bible instead of looking for answers from books or sermons. I spent some time cutting out the middle-man. I won’t lie and tell you that it was easy. I had to come to the realization that much of what I’d come to not only believe, but practice and cheer for, simply wasn’t found anywhere in God’s Word. Probably my biggest revelation was concerning exactly what it means to “be saved”.

Romans 3:10 And the Scriptures agree, for it is written:

There is no one who always does what is right, no, not even one!

Romans 3:23 for we all have sinned and are in need of the glory of God.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Salvation is a gift that cannot be earned. We are ALL sinners and deserve death, but God offers eternal life. But what if you’re a good person? We are ALL sinners.

James 4:17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.

Yeah. Did you eat well and care for you body today? Did you help the old lady at the grocery store that was struggling to load things in her car? Did you let the Mom in her minivan with three carseats have that perfect parking space you’d been waiting for? When your spouse said something that offended you did you respond with love and grace? Sin is sin is sin. It doesn’t matter if you committed adultery last night, or if you gossiped about your neighbor, or failed to pick up the phone and call your depressed friend when they crossed your mind. You’re a sinner.

But what if I’m a REALLY GOOD person?

Ephesians 2:8-9 For it was only through this wonderful grace that we believed in him. Nothing we did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the gracious gift from God that brought us to Christ! So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving.

There is nothing you can do to earn salvation, except to choose it.

John 3:16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Dear friends, let me give you clearly the heart of the gospel that I’ve preached to you—the good news that you have heartily received and on which you stand. For it is through the revelation of the gospel that you are being saved, if you fasten your life firmly to the message I’ve taught you, unless you have believed in vain. For I have shared with you what I have received and what is of utmost importance:

The Messiah died for our sins,
    fulfilling the prophecies of the Scriptures.
He was buried in a tomb
    and was raised from the dead after three days,
    as foretold in the Scriptures.

 

To be saved means to wholeheartedly believe that John 3:16 and 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 are true.

This is where what I believed about salvation got a little messy. Chances are good that if you’ve been in any church in America (and many other countries), at the end of a service you’ve heard someone ask those in attendance to pray a prayer if they wanted to be saved and then raise their hand if they’d “prayed that prayer”. While hands are raised the person who has led the prayer most likely counted.

Romans 10:9-10 If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.

My guess is that the “sinner’s prayer” (as the prayer is often referred to) is derived from the requirement of “openly declaring”. But guess what? There is no “sinner’s prayer” in scripture. I struggle with a visceral response to anyone that measures the success of a church on the number of people who “prayed that prayer” on a Sunday morning.

If you’re struggling with believing that you ARE saved, let me offer you some freedom. If you believe and you openly tell others that you believe, you ARE saved. It’s really that simple.

But it’s not simple.

Once you believe, you have responsibilities.

1 Peter 2:1-3 So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech. Like newborn babies, you must crave pure spiritual milk so that you will grow into a full experience of salvation. Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.

2 Timothy 2:22-26 Run as fast as you can from all the ambitions and lusts of youth; and chase after all that is pure. Whatever builds up your faith and deepens your love must become your holy pursuit. And live in peace with all those who worship our Lord Jesus with pure hearts. Stay away from all the foolish arguments of the immature, for these disputes will only generate more conflict. For a true servant of our Lord Jesus will not be argumentative but gentle toward all and skilled in helping others see the truth, having great patience toward the immature. Then with meekness you’ll be able to carefully enlighten those who argue with you so they can see God’s gracious gift of repentance and be brought to the truth. This will cause them to rediscover themselves and escape from the snare of Satan who caught them in his trap so that they would carry out his purposes.

Matthew 16:24-26 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.  And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”

If you read those three passages and thought, “Holy crap!” How on earth will I ever perfect being a Christian?” Well, you won’t. If we could perfect it, we wouldn’t need a savior. But we DO need a savior. And I’ll let you in on something…

2 Corinthians 5:14-17 Either way, Christ’s love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe that we have all died to our old life. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them. So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now! THIS MEANS THAT ANYONE WHO BELONGS TO CHRIST IS A NEW PERSON. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!

When you wholeheartedly believe, you are changed. I once heard a sermon on salvation where the pastor posted a picture similar to this… screen shot 2019-01-04 at 9.47.12 pm

It is a great representation of what it feels like to believe and know Jesus. Sin is not the only thing we need to be rescued from. I don’t know a single person who hasn’t felt like they were drowning in some bad situation, or emotions, or illness, or addiction, or pain; at some point in time. Salvation is God reaching down and pulling you out of that thing you are drowning in, or at least holding your hand so that the thing doesn’t kill you. It’s a new and changed way of living.

Christianity offers so much more than eternal life. It makes it possible to endure human life.

It offers grace…

1 John 1:9 But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.

It offers healing in relationships.

James 5:16 Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.

It offers hope.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a HOPE.

It offers physical healing, and emotional healing, and freedom from all things that hold us in bondage, and peace, and favor, and all the good things we can never seem to find through our own efforts.

If you’ve read this far… wow! I’m impressed.

If you’ve read this far and want to share with someone that you believe, feel free to contact me. I filter my comments so you can leave a comment and I’ll get back to you.

If you’re going through your own existential crisis, or you’re drowning in church wounds, or you prayed a prayer and raised your hand and nothing changed in your life, or this is all completely new information to you… I’d be happy to answer your questions, but I’m NOT the authority on Christianity. If you reach out to me I’d be happy to pray for you, but the very best thing you can do in any of the above situations is to READ THE BIBLE! If you don’t own a physical Bible I highly recommend that you get one (I’m a big fan of the NLT and ESV translations). If you don’t own a physical Bible and you’re not interested in getting one, you can download the YouVersion app on your phone or you can read it online at Bible Gateway.

Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

 

 

 

I’m a Louisiana Girl and this is my tribe…

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I’m a Louisiana girl. I was born and raised in and around Baton Rouge. I have a huge extended family that is still there. They are my tribe. And they are hurting.

Between Thursday and Sunday FOUR TRILLION GALLONS of water fell on South Louisiana. That’s enough water to fill SIX MILLION olympic-sized swimming pools. The chances of that much rain falling in an entire year is 0.1%. Yet, that much fell in less than four days. The national media sucks. They’ve given very little coverage and the coverage they’ve given doesn’t come close to the devastating impact the flood has had on my home state. As of a few hours ago, TWENTY parishes (counties in Louisiana) have been declared federal disasters. For perspective, the damage covers an area equal to the entire DC Metro area from Prince William County in Virginia all the way to Baltimore County in Maryland. In Denham Springs, Louisiana, more than 90% of homes were flooded. Hundreds of thousands of homes and vehicles flooded. As of noon today, at least 30,000 people have been rescued and at least 10,000 are displaced in shelters. As of a few minutes ago, ten flood-related deaths have been reported.

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My people… my tribe… These are the people who cheered us on as we journeyed to adopt our daughter from Serbia and embraced her as their own when we brought her home. These are the people who fell to their knees when I was diagnosed with cancer and for the nearly four years we waited for my husband to be exonerated. These are the people who jumped for joy and gave GOD the glory in every situation where we’ve seen God move. They are the people who knew me when I still wet the bed and invited to sleep-over anyway. These are MY people and they NEED prayer. pray for la

This is an update on everyone (to the best of my knowledge). If there is someone left off the list or if you see information that is not correct, please let me know and I will update the post. I’m not listing people that do not live in or around Baton Rouge. People all over the world read this blog and many have reached out to me asking how they can help (other than prayer). Family, please let me know what your top three needs are and we will start working on meeting those needs.

McAdams Family

Aunt Lorraine and Ron’s house in Central – Flooded – Last update they were staying with neighbors.13912696_10209611048927098_302717200772024004_n

Treynor – House dry, but business flooded.

Lynee – House dry.

Madelon’s house in Bellingrath got about five feet of water. – Angie is there helping her with demo and she’s staying with Staci. They need extra hands! 13920628_10209494466454706_2410493208656593255_n

Margaret had water almost to her roof and lost her car. – Not sure where she is staying.

Bobbye Lee and Staci – both dry and helping Madelon with demo.

Kali and Thomas both lost their cars. Haven’t gotten back to their house in Watson, but were told that it’s dry.

Boo’s house (Aunt Abbie’s old house) – flooded.

Mac – Dry, but I think I saw that his daughter Angela’s house is flooded and they are staying with extended family.

Paul – Dry, but his business flooded

Shannon – Dry (it took us all a while to find them and thank GOD they are safe!). Shannon has offered space and hot meals to anyone in need. They live in Arbor Walk off S. Walker Rd.

Sarah – Dry in Lafayette

Uncle Marshall – Dry – He was even able to go to church on Sunday. 🙂

Peggy and her kids are all dry

Janell – Flooded – Peggy’s family helped her start demo today.

Rebekah – Flooded

Matt – Flooded

Jared – Dry

Marsha – Dry – After two nights in a shelter separated from Max, Virginia was able to get home last night – Thank God!

Dennis – Dry – Pray for his heart. He’s been activated to search door to door for flood victims.

Rusty – Flooded – His family is at Terrie’s house and they’ve lost everything including their vehicles.

Carolyn – Dry – She has a house FULL of people and Brian’s work flooded.

Cynde – Dry

Michelle – Lost everything including their vehicles – They’re also staying at Terrie’s house.

Kathy (Aunt Betty Faye’s old house) – Dry

Daniel – Flooded – His family is staying with Kathy.

Estelle – Dry

Jay – Dry

Amy – Flooded – Staying with Jay. 14021507_10206744923483239_4386978252576373951_n 14040015_10206867246464281_8360502372614721889_n

Uncle Emmitt – They’ve lost everything. House, business, vehicles… all flooded. I believe they’re staying with Gabe and Telly’s families at Telly’s in-laws.13902627_10208932352580148_2723598726709376672_n

Freeman – Dry

Wes – House is dry. Kelsey and Justin’s houses both flooded.

Todd – Dry

Telly – Flooded13962753_10208932350740102_7468121132381175424_n

Gabe – Flooded13903249_10208932350980108_1530153448561176323_n

Crenshaw Family

Daddy- Dry

Margie’s house in Denham – Flooded – She is in Leesville.

Uncle Harvey’s house flooded. Harvey is helping them with demo, but they can use more hands.

Harvey – Dry

Richey – Dry – Rescued Uncle Harvey and Aunt Gwen and got them to a friend’s house where they are staying.

Aunt Cindy – Dry

Chip – Dry

Clint – Dry

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Cori’s Neighborhood

Cori – Flooded – She lost her house and car and still needs help with demo.

Beth – Dry

Rusty -Dry

Stacy – Dry

Kayla – Dry

Todd – Dry

Little Todd – Flooded – They lost everything and they’re staying with Todd.

Nicole -Dry

Bagot Family

James Gay – Dry

Courtney – Dry

Marshall – Dry

I will update as I receive new information and I will write another post on ways to help.

Baton Rouge has been through HELL in the last month. But there is a dichotomy in that hell. After the shootings of Alton Sterling, Brad Garafola, Matt Gerald, Montrell Jackson, and Nick Tullier; we witnessed division that seemed irreparable. What I am witnessing now is the polar opposite. People of every race, class, and religion are working together to save themselves and their community. I see thousands of people sleeping on cots and floors right next to people who look nothing like them. I see people launching their boats off the side of a highway and spending every waking hour rescuing anyone they can find. I see people acting like Jesus. And for that… I am grateful.13987998_10210275206984752_6878420232567535697_o 13958043_10157221523755648_1617682888949978459_o13907188_10154432803572272_4799961203605231147_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forgiveness is better than karma.

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In the weeks since I wrote the letter to General Becker, I’ve received countless messages saying things like, “I don’t know that I could forgive him for what he did.” and “How can you forgive the people who destroyed your husband’s career?”

With the questions have come miracles. Miracles we never dreamed or imagined…

As we’ve digested the impact of the miracles, I have struggled with how to answer questions regarding forgiveness, but here’s the gist of it…

I have no choice.

For many years, the people who know me well have heard me say, “I LOVE forgiveness!” Sometimes people respond with an emphatic, “Me too!” and sometimes they look at me like I have a third eye. There’s this thing I’ve noticed about the third-eye-people; they always say something about karma and how it’s a bitch or how they can’t wait to see karma come full circle at the mention of the word forgiveness.

Matthew 6:12-13 “…and forgive us our sins,
    as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”

That verse up there. ^^ It’s not just any verse. The first sermon Jesus ever preached was the Sermon on the Mount. In that sermon, Jesus said, “Pray like this…” and then he gave what became known as The Lord’s Prayer. Every Catholic and Protestant on the planet will learn that prayer. Yet, many still believe in karma.

Jesus was pretty clear. “Pray like this…” Ask God to forgive your sins to the same degree you’ve forgiven others. It’s the simplest of prayers and the clearest path to freedom…

Forgive so that you can be forgiven.

beer-goggles

I’m sure you’re wondering, “What the heck do beer goggles have to do with forgiveness?”

Here ya go… Beer goggles make things look prettier than they may actually be. I know this to be a fact. Do you know the antonym for beer goggles? What accomplishes the opposite of making things look prettier than they actually are?

Unforgiveness is the answer.

Unforgiveness makes things look uglier than they actually are. The longer you hold on to unforgiveness, the uglier a person becomes. When you refuse to forgive, eventually, you can no longer see any good in a person.

You wanna know the difference between karma and forgiveness? It’s pretty simple. Do you choose to give a person a pardon or do you choose to put them on probation. When a person has committed a crime and they are given a pardon, all is forgiven. That person is free to live their life and they no longer face any consequences for their crime. When a person is on probation, they are living with conditional freedom. They have to report to a probation officer and they have to meet constant expectations and work to prove that they have changed.

I have witnessed it repeatedly. It’s impossible to live a life based on karma without the expectation that karma will dish out revenge to those who hurt us. People that rely on karma don’t forgive and they put people who’ve hurt them on probation. They just keep waiting for those who’ve hurt them to reap what they’ve sown. They believe that “revenge is sweet”. I know. I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And to be honest…. there will likely be a time in the future when I will venture down that road again. It feels good to think that people who’ve hurt us “will get what’s coming to them”.

One thing about karma is that it is indeed a bitch. It creates a circle of waiting to get what you deserve and waiting for others to get what they deserve. It holds everyone in that circle prisoner. I’ve seen people I love waste their lives looking back and waiting for karma to get even with someone who’s hurt them. All they see is ugly. All they do is wait.

But oh forgiveness… it sets people free.

That’s what I choose. I choose to forgive. I choose freedom.

In an attempt to teach my children the power of grace, I’ve made a repentance/forgiveness box for the last few Lenten seasons. The boxes are wrapped in paper with a slot cut in the top for inserting notes. I write scriptures, love notes really, about grace and forgiveness all over the box and attach a nail to the top that represents the ones used to hold Jesus on the cross. next to the box are notepads and a jar of pens. Between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday everyone who enters our home is invited to leave their sins and their unforgiveness in the box and on Easter night, we burn the entire thing.

Except this year… Dear Hubby and I have been stuck. I made the box on Mardi Gras and for six months, everyone who entered our home, was encouraged to leave something behind. And although the box was full and I had given my word to many that it would be burned, we held on to it. I only intended to delay the burning until I FELT like I had forgiven the people whose names I’d deposited in the box. But the delay turned into days, and then weeks, and then months. We just kept delaying the letting go. In the waiting we kept adding to the collection of paper in the box. Week after week, some days hour after hour, we would scribble names and details on pieces of paper, fold them neatly, and insert them in the box’s opening.

If you read the Sermon on the Mount, skip forward to Matthew 18 and read the parable of the unforgiving debtor. It’s a perfect picture of the difference between forgiveness and karma. In the beginning of the parable Peter asks Jesus,“Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!…”

For most of my life I was overwhelmed by this concept. Are we really required to forgive someone four hundred and ninety times? What does that even look like? Can you imagine telling your six month old baby, “I forgive you for puking on my favorite sweater.” FOUR HUNDRED AND NINETY times?!

Then again, that baby’s first words might be, “I forgive you…” Hmmmm….there’s some food for thought.

Despite the fact that the abundance of forgiving might produce a ridiculously graceful child, I really don’t think that’s what Jesus was saying at all. I believe that Jesus was saying that you keep forgiving until your heart stops hurting. If you’re still seeing ugly in a person, you probably need to keep forgiving them. If you’re still expectantly waiting for someone to get what they deserve, you’re not done forgiving.

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For four months my husband and I dropped notes in the box that said abstract things like, “I forgive the Army.”, “I forgive the people who made the false accusations against my husband.”, “I forgive the people or person that is trying to destroy my husband’s career.”

And then… in June, we got the investigation notes and we had actual names attached to actual faces. We had actual actions and words spoken. Our notes changed. Our forgiveness changed.

If I had to guess, between the day we got the investigation notes and the night we burned the box, we each wrote several thousand notes. It may have actually taken 490 scraps of paper covered with two specific names for our hearts to feel free…

Fun fact: Forgiveness does not only release the forgiver and the forgiven. It also releases the power of God to move in miraculous ways.

Thirty-six hours after we burned that box, my dear hubby got a phone call from one of his old bosses. Someone that has not contacted him in four years and whose name was dropped in the box a few times, called to apologize. That’s worth repeating… He apologized. Profusely. And… he promised to get dear hubby’s security clearance immediately reinstated. And he did. He also did much, much more to restore what we thought was forever gone. And now my dear hubby is getting ready to start a REALLY SWEET job that will allow him to finish well. For four years we’ve prayed… “God, please allow him the opportunity to finish well. Amen.” The career-killer letter? It’s gone.

I want to make something clear. Forgiveness CANNOT be tied to an apology. There’s not a single place in scripture that says so. I had to forgive my Mother for some big, huge, ugly things after she was dead. I’ll never get an apology from her. She is still forgiven. I’ve been hurt by complete strangers (and close friends) who’ve said ugly things about my stimmers (my kiddos with autism). I may never get an apology. They are still forgiven. The men who made the accusations against my husband will likely never apologize. We forgive them anyway.

Sometimes you get an apology. Most of the time you don’t. Forgive anyway.

The apology my man got. It’s a gift. It’s our lagniappe. It’s one of our many miracles.

One more thing… That little note at the top.. the one about Karma not having a menu? That makes me sad. I like menus. I like choices. Some days I want the calamari and some days I want the stuffed mushrooms. And let’s be honest… Do any of us actually want what we deserve? If I got what I truly deserved I’d be feasting nightly on dirty dishwater. But God… He loves me enough to have given His son so that I get to feast daily on His goodness and forgiveness.

So when given the choice between forgiveness and karma; I choose forgiveness. Always.

Mission: Safe Sofija (adoption is a horse)

I started a post more than a year ago titled “Cutting the Horn off the Unicorn”.  That post turned into a personal vent session so I decided not to share it. This post is its replacement. I’m about to cut the horn off a unicorn…

Adoption is hard.

REALLY hard.

In order for one Mother to adopt a child, another Mother must lose a child. In order for an adopted child to attach to her/his adoptive family, that child must let go of their biological family. Adoption ALWAYS involves a lifetime war of nature vs. nurture. Sometimes nurture wins. Sometimes it doesn’t.

When you choose to have a child with someone, you usually take into account what that person will contribute to your child. Will they make pretty babies? Do they come from a long line of smart people? Do compassion and entrepreneurship run in their family? Are they athletic?

or…

Will your children be ugly, clumsy, dumb, lazy, and cold-hearted? Do heart disease, diabetes, and cancer run in both of your families? Does your potential Baby’s Daddy have a physical or learning disability?

At the end of the account taking you usually end up saying, “Hey, he meets half my desires for a Baby Daddy and I love him so let’s get busy.”

Adoption works nothing like the above scenario.

Before I go any further I want to say that I LOVE ADOPTION! I don’t want this post to leave anyone believing otherwise.

But I’m sick and tired of reading all the blogs and news articles that paint adoption as nothing but rainbows and unicorns.

In biological parenting you weigh all the knowns, and you accept the risks. In adoption you weigh all the UNknowns, and you accept the risks. I’m a risk-taker. I was made for adoption. And still… adoption has broken me, taken me to the end of myself, and shown me day after day that the only way through this life is 100% dependence on God.

Yesterday, January 10, 2015, I did one of the hardest things I’ve ever done as a parent. My husband and I admitted our nine-year old daughter to the psychiatric unit at Children’s National Medical Center. I have prayed for wisdom in sharing details leading up to this decision while protecting our daughter. The decision to admit her was ultimately made because we no longer felt that we were keeping her safe at home. She will be hospitalized anywhere from one to three weeks and in that time we will meet several times with a team of doctors and develop a plan for keeping her safe at home from this point forward.

When we began the process of adopting Sofija we knew that she had autism. We were told little else about her or her biological family and everything we WERE told was untrue. When we arrived in Serbia and met her and heard the truth of her history and experienced exactly what we were getting ourselves into, I wanted to walk away. Judge me. Think badly of me. I really don’t care. I wanted to walk away. No matter what your thoughts are, I encourage you to click that last link and read the post I wrote in Serbia while God was working on my heart. As hard as it was to move forward and as hard as every day has been for the last 57 months, we were walking in God’s will. And there’s really no place I’d rather be.

The things I feel comfortable sharing about the last few months are:

-Sofija has repeatedly run away and has spent every second of every day trying to find a way out of the house so she can get to 7eleven.

-She has hurt herself. Repeatedly, and in horrible ways.

-She has hurt us. Repeatedly, and in horrible ways.

-She refuses to stay in her seat in a car and she frequently attacks (jumps on, slaps, throws objects at, pulls hair) everyone in the car, to include the driver.

-She has hurt other students at school and on her bus.

Last, but certainly not least, she has stopped sleeping. She didn’t fall asleep AT ALL between January 2nd and January 6th and since the 6th she has slept no more than 2-4 hours per night. When she wakes up she tries to get out of the house which means that we don’t sleep. The only rest Chad and I have had for the last couple of months has been when she’s at school. We’re not living. We’re surviving. We try to keep her and us safe when she’s home and we sleep while she’s at school. That’s our life. Our life is exhausting. We are spent.

Adoption is hard.

Really hard.

But… James 1:27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means CARING FOR ORPHANS and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Does that mean every person who calls themselves a “Christian” needs to adopt? Absolutely, positively, NO. But it does mean that The Church has a responsibility to care for orphans. What does that look like? For me, today, it means sitting in a room that looks like a prison cell (with a sweet view of The Capital and the Washington Monument) with my daughter and believing that her (and our) quality of life will be a thousand times better when she is released. It means that I get to spend the rest of my life fighting the nature vs. nurture war with high hopes that nurture will win.

What does “caring for orphans” look like for you? Well, it’s honestly a question that you have to answer for yourself. I can tell you that our family is not the only adoptive family hurting. Maybe not to the same degree as us, but there are adoptive families all over the place just trying to survive.

-LOVE THEM! We’re lonely! We’re tired! We need YOU!! For quite some time we have basically been shut-ins. Because Sofija hates leaving home and her favorite way of taking control in the car is to jump on the person driving, leaving our house as a family has literally required risking our lives. She’s almost 5’1″, weighs 87lbs, runs like a cheetah, and she’s strong as an ox. We NEED people to come to us.

-Stop judging us!!! We need love and grace and compassion and there just isn’t any room in our lives for judgment. And while I’m on the subject: Adoptive Moms, please stop judging other adoptive Moms. Some families choose disruption and if that is what they choose, respect that choice. I can absolutely guarantee you that the decision to disrupt is not made with any less thought than the decision to adopt. We’re all just trying to survive and care for orphans and sometimes caring for an orphan means allowing that child to become part of a new family.

-We also need people to love on our other children. They’re lonely too. They’ve made HUGE sacrifices in order for us to add a child to our family and (in our case) they have been traumatized by the addition to the family. They need some peace and normalcy and they just don’t get it at home.

-Find an adoptive family in your church and get to know them. Go to their home and try not to be freaked out by the chaos. Our church does an AMAZING job of loving on us! We have a small group of people from our church that meet at our house weekly so that we have a chance to love on others.

-Don’t be afraid to go to the homes of people with adopted children. You just might be blessed! We’ve learned more about grace, faith, hope and provision, than most people will in a lifetime. Ask us questions. Most of us miss face-to-face conversations.

-If you can financially support adoption, contribute to someone who’s in the process. Adoption is expensive (average cost is $30k-$60k) and just because someone is a risk taker with the strength and grace to parent a child from a hard place doesn’t mean that person has the financial resources to bring home a child that needs a family.

-Offer to babysit. You might get slapped or have your hair pulled or have things thrown at you; but you also just might save a marriage that’s been pushed to its limits. Did you read that? Getting uncomfortable for a few hours may just save a marriage. And a saved marriage means less trauma and loss for a child who’s lost more than anyone ever should.

-Most importantly: PRAY! Pray for our family and when you’re done, pray for other adoptive families. God answers prayers. God heals. God provides. Get on your knees or in your shower or pause before climbing out of bed and PRAY!

In adoption there are indeed rainbows; those bright, beautiful, colorful moments that fill you with hope and promise and paint a smile on your face. But like real rainbows, they fade away too soon and leave you expectantly searching for the next one to appear.

Although the rainbow moments exists, there are no unicorns. Adoption is not magical and mythical. It is hard. Really hard. But you know what? When you cut the horn off a unicorn you still have a beautiful, strong, stubborn, magnificent being. Adoption is a horse. And I like horses.

Believing that our hospital snuggles quickly become SAFE at-home snuggles. 10653833_10205720021978831_9099978568237184432_n

 

 

so my daughter ran away…

I started this blog in the fall of 2009 so that our friends and family could be a part of our journey to adopt our precious Sofija. The last five years have been one heckuva journey! We had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. It was probably better that way. IMG_2216 IMG_2250 IMG_2360 IMG_2401 IMG_2409 IMG_2416 IMG_3029 IMG_3101

Sofija is amazing.

Sofija is beautiful.

Sofija is gifted, and athletic.

Sofija is the queen of selfies (Sorry, Kim Kardashian. She’s got you beat.)

Sofija is also very, very HARD.

Every single bad thing that can come from a child beginning her life in a neglectful institutional setting… she’s got it. She’s broken in a thousand ways. I have many friends with adopted and biological children who have disabilities that say, “I wouldn’t change a thing about my child.” You will not hear me say those words. I would give up a limb or one of my senses if it would heal my child.

One of the many things Sofija struggles with is a total lack of rational fears.  She has plenty of IRrational fears. But when it comes to understanding the dangers of this world… she hasn’t a clue. We have tried and tried to make her understand that she simply cannot run down the middle of the street or leave our house without us. We’ve put extra locks and alarms on the doors. Last Saturday night we grasped just how epically our efforts have failed.

We moved Sofija’s bed into our room a year and a half ago after she repeatedly got up during the night and put herself into dangerous situations or did fun things like pouring an entire jar of honey and bottle of ketchup into her bed… at the same time.

On Saturday night, after her bath, Sofija asked to play in her room. Every 5-10 minutes I checked on her. I always do. At 10pm I called her name and asked her what she was doing. She replied, “I’m still playing.” At 10:05 I called her name and told her it was time for bed. She didn’t respond. Before I got to her door I had a sinking feeling in my gut. It was too quiet. She wasn’t there. As I walked away from her room I noticed that the door to the garage was open. Walking into the garage I saw that the door from our garage to the back yard was open. There was no need to search the rest of the house. She was gone. I didn’t think to call 911. I just took off down the street in my socks. My husband took off in the opposite direction. I made it around our block, ran back in the house, grabbed the car keys, and told my son to call 911. I drove down our street with my windows down, screaming her name, and looking for any sign that she was at someone’s house. Two blocks from home I passed an unmarked cop car that was driving slowly with a search light on. I jumped in front of his car and fell apart. He asked me to please calm down and began describing Sofija to me. It turns out that one of our neighbors had seen Sofija sprinting down the road in her pajamas and glitter boots (that are two sizes too small – they were in a donation bag in the garage). The neighbor called the police. Within minutes Fairfax county search and rescue had seven police cruisers and a helicopter searching for my daughter. The policeman that I jumped in front of followed me back to our house and I listened as calls of “Sofija sightings” continued to come in on his radio. She ran from our house to 7eleven (about a mile) and when the clerk wouldn’t let her get a slurpee she ran to Safeway (a block from 7eleven) in search of ice cream cake. A police car followed her from 7eleven to Safeway and four cars cornered her at Safeway. My husband was driving around the neighborhood when an officer called from the Safeway parking lot asking for a family member because “She’s very aggressive.” EIGHT cops could not get her in the back of a police car. Her Daddy went and got her and brought her home, mad as a spring bear, because she “didn’t get a slurpee OR ice cream cake and the police lights hurt her eyes.”

I didn’t sleep Saturday night. Or Sunday night. Or much of any night since.

Sunday was spent installing new alarms and keyed chain locks. And then, Sunday night, after her bath, she put on socks and shoes and asked if she could play in her room “with the window open.”

What? The? Hell?

Seriously?!

This sinking feeling that I’m going to lose my child to an open window or unlocked door has got to be as close to hell as I ever want to come. I want peace. I need peace. My child needs a miracle.

We’ve done everything we can think of to keep her safe. She’s sleeping in our room with every door double-locked and alarms on all the doors and windows.  ~The irony has not escaped me that most people install alarms and locks to keep bad people out and we had to install them to keep a precious someone in.~ Sofija is now registered with the county as a “flight risk” and the search and rescue team have assured us that they will do everything in their power to get her home should she escape again. I’m printing postcards for our neighbors and all the local businesses with her picture and our contact information. If it was legal to microchip her, we would do it.

All that’s left is hope and prayer. If you think of us, pray for us. Pray for her safety. Pray for her healing. Pray for our peace.

Romans 5:2-5 NLT

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment…

Cancer

From Dictionary.com

can·cer

[kan-ser] 

noun

1. Pathology .

a. a malignant and invasive growth or tumor, especially one originating in epithelium, tending to recur after excision and to metastasize to other sites.

b. any disease characterized by such growths.
2. any evil condition or thing that spreads destructively; blight.
cancer_sucks
Such an ugly word.  Such an ugly part of life.
I know five people that have been diagnosed with cancer this month.  FIVE.  In one month.
Before the first one was diagnosed I went to my doctor because something just wasn’t right.  She sent me to have an ultrasound and then to see a specialist.  The specialist ordered a biopsy that will be done in the morning.
I’ve had cancer before.  I learned some things from it.  I’m perfectly fine with going the rest of my life without learning anything else from cancer.  If you want to keep me in your prayers, I’d appreciate it.