Monday, November 30, 2009

Unforgettable Thanksgiving

Memorable Thanksgivings in Arkansas abound.


This year was different.   All of the above took place, ensconced in an atmosphere of love and thanksgiving, rich, authentic and beautiful.

My cousins and aunt from Dallas came up, we came down, and for a couple days we enjoyed reconnecting.  My family in Dallas always inspires me to greater heights.  My aunt always speaks a wonderful word over me, her faith brilliantly shining in this sometimes dark world.  My cousins are 100 percent Texan, beautiful and full of life, always authentic.  They inspire me to shop and wear heels.   Although this is a rather short-lived inspiration, I love the reminder that dressing up is not such a bad thing...occasionally.

Thanksgiving morning, Dad cooked his amazing breakfast of fried potatoes and eggs, bacon and ham.  We all sat around the rattan table (as old as me) and laughed.  Family is precious.   We have the wonderful blessing of being knit together by blood and Jesus and store-bought biscuits.

Later we sat down to another meal, this time with Allen and Mary.   Beforehand, the men frying turkey in the garage, the ladies in the house making potatoes and cranberry sauce, the kids playing in the woods, in the stream, up and down Allen and Mary's hill, Shiloh racing along with them  -- this is what an Arkansas Thanksgiving is all about.  The meal is just to cap off an already perfect kind of day.
Mary placed corn kernels by our plates, and as we ate, someone would take a kernel, place it on the table and say a thanksgiving.   I don't think I've ever been so blessed.   The words poured out:
I am thankful for my husband... my wife... amazing kids... our health... Joseph Prince.... fried turkey... a brother...a baby to be... grace, love, hope... all gifts from our Heavenly Father.

After a life-changing year in so many ways for our family (E's diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes and the decision to adopt) I am reminded this Thanksgiving of God's lavish love, poured out so tangibly over the last couple weeks especially.  He loves us.  He loves our family.  He gave us this day as a gift.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Homeward Bound!

The Parker family passed court today in Ethiopia!!! Sweet Ela is coming home! As I think about the pictures of this precious 5-year-old in the orphanage halfway across the world, I cannot help but be amazed at God's providence. And now she'll travel, with her new family, across the world to the US, a new life, a new hope...yet leaving everything and everyone she's ever known. And still, despite her huge losses already in life, I know God will abundantly pour out more than enough to bind up her wounds, soften her little heart, and show her Himself in amazing ways. She was chosen to be in this family months ago, a sweet, tender family full of love. Little Ela, you will see, the Lord loves you so.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Things to Do

We completed our 2nd Home Study meeting this morning and left with a stack of to-dos! I love it when our social worker hands us stuff. It feels so satisfying to be able to do something, check it off the list, and feel a small step closer to the end of this adoption. I know that a time will come soon when there will be nothing to do but wait...and wait...and wait.

But, Lord, you are sovereign. You are holy. You are powerful. You hold this in your hands.

From Hole in the Gospel this week: What keeps me from full surrender? What keeps me from being the hands and feet of Jesus to those who need love without condemnation, who need a smile instead of indifference, who need food instead of judgment?
What keeps me from the to-do list that God would have for me today? Is it to do laundry with joy? Read to my precious little niece? Give grace to my child? Reach my hand out to a complete stranger?

Lord, I thank you that the more I look at You, my view becomes so much larger than my surroundings. Your eyes see the broken, the unforgiven, the lost. Let me have your eyes today...and free me from the idols of fear, approval and distraction. How many opportunities have I missed because these things have been front and center?

Your mercies are new every morning. Great is your faithfulness. Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to You I lift up my soul. (Ps. 143.8)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Our Children are in Ethiopia

It's been over a month since I've posted about our little ones. After much research and conversation, we are adopting from...Ethiopia. After weeks on the domestic train, we've hopped off. It really came down to peace. We couldn't settle on an agency, an area of the country, etc.

Many months ago, maybe back in the spring, I came across an international adoption website and began mindlessly clicking through the various countries represented. I'll never forget watching the video about Ethiopia. I have tried to rediscover this site since, to no avail. Their video of Ethiopia introduced me to this beautiful, yet scarred, country. Some lady talked about the beautiful and diverse land, but mostly she talked about the people...joyful, special people, full of affection and life. Despite poverty, famine, disease and war, these people were smiling. I remember. It stuck with me.

I remember Christian's crestfallen face when he discovered we were adopting domestically. Why, he asked, are we doing that? Why not Africa? Because, I said, it takes forever. He gravely asked the question again. Because, Christian, there are plenty of kids here.
Sometimes our kids are way ahead of us, their vision unhindered by logic.

I look back and smile when I think of how the Lord began preparing us long before we knew we needed preparing. Little Aziz of Burkina Faso is in our prayers nightly, has been for years. A call to compassion by Bono of U2 at a Willow Creek event. I walked away from that event with a new awareness of some terrible things happening on the other side of the world, events that I never thought about, didn't care about. An introduction to refugee kids at Longfellow. I remember thinking, What are refugees? A few years later I made a turkey, my one act of kindness for the year probably, for a refugee family. I will never forget the small, tidy apartment with 7 kids and the mom wrapped in a hat and scarf graciously taking the turkey and adding it to the feast already brewing in her tiny kitchen, the smell of rice and fish sauce wafting through the air. My overcooked and painfully American turkey was hopelessly out of place. But she was gracious, and I smiled and hightailed it out of there.
Then Clapham opened its hearts to refugee families and I found myself volunteering to show up at the gatherings once a month between the C kids and the refugee families. I say "show up" because that's all I knew how to do. It was rather awkward, not knowing how to communicate with people from all these other countries, and so I think I just smiled and nodded. Sometimes that's all I still do at these interactions. The C kids? They're just fine. They play. The refugee children play. They play together. It's that simple.

Then came Re:new. As I interact with these amazing women from Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, I am overwhelmed by God's wonderful grace, His love, His delight in these women. They delight me. They inspire me. I am falling in love with Africa too. He knew. He knew just what I needed all this time. He's slowly brought me along, sharing His heart with me, softening William's heart too, showing us even through E and C, that we are to forever be intertwined with this beautiful continent.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Hole in the Gospel

This week I started a 6-week study on The Hole in the Gospel. Around Sasha's coffee table we sat, eleven very different women sharing eleven reasons why they wanted to do this, all of us, radically loved and transformed women, hungering to live out the Gospel in the way that our Lord expects. I Corinthians 13 was set before us right off the bat. Because without the divine love of the Savior being poured into us and then back out...well, it's empty.

Yesterday I learned that a child dies every 21 seconds from a water-related disease. This amounts to nearly 6,000 deaths, or the equivalent of 20 jumbo jets crashing every day.

17And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book and found the place where it was written,

20And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him.

21And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Luke 4 = The Whole Gospel: Forgiveness, Justice, Compassion

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