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    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or whether the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; Whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes up short again and again; Who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; And who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. It is far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight of life, knowing neither victory nor defeat. ~ Theodore Roosevelt
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  • The Reformed Pastor – Richard Baxter

    “We must carry on our work with patience. We must bear with many abuses and injuries from those to whom we seek to do good. When we have studied for them, and prayed for them, and exhorted them, and beseeched them with all earnestness and condescension, and given them what we are able, and tended them as if they had been our children, we must look that many of them will requite us with scorn and hatred and contempt, and account us their enemies, because we ‘tell them the truth.’ Now, we must endure all this patiently, and we must unweariedly hold on in doing good, ‘in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves, if God, peradventure, will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth.’ We have to deal with distracted men who will fly in the face of their physician, but we must not, therefore, neglect their cure. He is unworthy to be a physician, who will be driven away from a frenetic patient by foul words. Yet, alas, when sinners reproach and slander us for our love, and are more ready to spit in our faces, than to thank us for our advice, what heart-risings will there be, and how will the remnants of old Adam (pride and passion) struggle against the meekness and patience of the new man! And how sadly do many ministers come off under such trials!”
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A Knee-jerk Response

OK, normally I don’t respond to ignorant statements or rude accusations. It’s just not good practice. But occasionally a public insult requires a public rebuke and I feel that is warranted on occasion. There are others who are struggling with similar circumstances that may gain some insight or comfort in what I’m about to address. I made a decision a while back to share my experiences with you all – both good and bad – in an attempt to bring God glory by using His Word to counter the evil in this world – both from the outside and from within my own heart. Yes, it is an assault on my pride to expose my pain to others. But if it will help someone along the way, I am obligated to share it. It is God who must be lifted up – not me. I have always believed the statement: John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease,” but I have not always lived it. Today I am going to live it – much to my own demise.

I have no doubt that when I get to the point of this posting, I will experience much public dishonor from the child that has chosen to dishonor her mother by pouting online when she should be repenting in private. But I also believe that much good can be accomplished by avoiding the “mamby pamby religion” of the world by addressing a sin pubically that has been committed publically. (“Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” I Timothy 5:20) Although this doesn’t say the sin must be a public one before we rebuke publically, I try to stick with the advice I was once given, “Praise publically, rebuke in private.” The Internet has complicated relationships by exposing the world to private concerns by those who do not have the wisdom to keep “private” things “private” (that’s why they’re called “private”).

I have some children whom I have adopted that are not living for God. We as parents set the right example, told them of our wonderful God and His provision, love and care, advised them against evil and helped them in every way we knew possible to live clean, God pleasing lives. We were successful with some and with others, not so successsful. Though I know we are only called to be faithful and rely on God for the results, we have had many a broken heart over some of our children’s choices to live for themselves.

Some of these children had hearts that were tainted before God took them out of the world and planted them into our family. They had experienced sin in a way as small children that haunted them throughout their days with us and on to adulthood. Though we showed them a loving, healing God, the time in our home apparently was not enough to bring a complete transformation. We were tough disciplinarians for we knew we were obligated to address each and every sinful behavior in order to keep our house in order, but we also provided loving acceptance – not of their sin, by any means, but of them as a person. Unfortunately, the bitter, wayward ones only remember the discipline and assign responsibility to us for it, but that is only a sinful, immature response to their own guilt and consequences for their sinful choices.

The way of the transgressor IS hard. (Prov. 13:15) I would find it somewhat amusing if it were not totally heartbreaking that some of our children are proving the negative aspects of the Bible with their lives. Many verses in the Bible that address sinful living and the results of such life choices are being proven out in those in our family who are not living right. That said, I’m going to share with you some of the comments made by adopted children that I’ve encountered over the years. The last one is the one I am specifically addressing in this post and is currently displayed online. Keep in mind that we are not supposed to be offended by other people’s comments or actions, but to focus on God and what He has done for us. We tend to be a petty and superficial people and fall prey to hurtful gestures or comments. This is something I’ve worked on for years but have not successfully conquered. (Psalm 119:165 “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”) If I am who I ought to be, these comments will not offend me. Yet, I find it a struggle daily.

“I just want to live on my own and stop living with all these rules.” Often you’ll find those who make this statement join the Marines. This is quite amusing to me! We all have accountability whether it be with our family, boss, or the law. This is an immature response from a rebellious heart.

“You love your birth kids more than us, your adopted ones.” I’ve never had this said to me personally, but others have endured this accusation. I’ve discovered the heart can love regardless of blood line. I actually forget sometimes that some of my kids are adopted and not mine by birth. If you ask me which of my children are adopted, I say, “I forget.” If asked which ones are “my own,” I’ll say, “I have 13 adopted and 2 homemade and they’re all my own.” It doesn’t matter how you come into our family; what matters is that God made us a family and that’s that. I guess that’s the love of God manifested. He has adopted us by a spiritual birth like we have adopted children by the court process. Parent/child adoption here on earth very much parallels the spiritual adoption of God toward believers. Add into the equation the spouses of our children, and you find another type of adopted love – that of accepting someone into our family by the choice of our children. I look at my sons-in-law as my sons – a bond that can’t even be broken by divorce. Sorry, that’s just how I am. Once a son, always a son. Get used to it! Adam, Mark and Scott, you’re stuck with me!

“I don’t have to do what you say when I turn 18.” Well, of course they don’t. By law, they become an adult and are at that time responsible for their own actions. But the Bible also says that we ought to honor our parents, seek wisdom of the aged, seek wise counsel, and seek the Kingdom first. (Eph. 6:2,3; Job 32:7; Prov. 24:5,6; Prov. 15:20-22; Matt. 6:33) If a child is wise and loves God, he will want to obey and follow the counsel of his parents. The problem encountered here isn’t necessarily one of disobedience, but one of wisdom and respect for the parents who sacrificed for the child the past 18 years. If the parents and the child are abiding in Christ, they both will receive guidance about the child’s future decisions. God didn’t put the child in that family only to sever the relationship at age 18. God will guide the parent who will in turn guide the child. That’s not to say that God won’t speak directly to the child, but He will also speak to the parents as well. We’ve had situations where God spoke to us first and then after relaying it to the child, she saw His direction. We’ve also experienced a child receiving something from God and sharing direction with us, which in turn caused us to seek God’s direction, which He gave. God will answer those who ask – whether it be child or parent. To seek wisdom from the parents and to trust their direction takes humility and submission. It’s only those who truly know God and abide in Him that posess these qualities.

There will be hard consequences for the child who goes off on his own and ignores the parent’s counsel. I think I speak for every parent when I say that I don’t want to live those consequences with them! If they are going to choose to be of the world, I do not want to join them. I will separate myself from the world because God has told me to and if my children are wanting me to participate in the world on their behalf, they will be disappointed. The attitude of, “I will do what I want,” will only lead to pain and failure. I have a child who repeatedly went against wise counsel and after one thing leading to another is presently in a ungodly lifestyle. This leads me to the last “comment” in which this blog is dedicated to. It was her words online that spurred me on to write this post.

“My mother doesn’t love me.”  Recently one of my children made the statement online that I don’t love them. It’s kind of ridiculous that I’d even answer this one, for there has not been another mother in history that has had as much patience or forgiveness for a child than I have, nor has there been another that has given as much. I know I am at risk in responding to this, for it will appear that I am trying to answer this ridiculous charge by justifying myself. But I do feel a responsibility to answer this for all the adoptive mothers out there that have spent their life for a child who has no desire to love and serve God, let alone their family – the family that has done so much for them already. It’s like the verses: Prov. 26:4  “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.” Prov. 26:5 “Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.” Until this situation came up, I really didn’t understand these verses. But now I do. There is a popular saying in the world that basically says that you can’t win no matter what you do. That’s what these verses are implying. Foolish is as foolish does, so let’s not copy the foolish. But there are hurting moms out there that need to be vindicated. Forget ME – God knows. But I can’t leave those other hurting moms to fend for themselves. It’s not right. So, if you can indulge me a  little, try not to think I am defending myself, think of it as I am defending all the moms who have given of themselves only to be dumped on and labled as unloving by their children. I throw my lot in with them today. Some of the things I’m listing here will not match others’ stories, but basically, our stories are the same. I will use the term “I” but really mean “we.” It’s just easier to write in the first person.

1. I took in a child that was tossed aside by a mother who didn’t love her enough to do right by her and put her needs ahead of her own. That’s called “adoption through court termination of the parent’s legal rights.” How many mothers do you know that were willing to take into their home a child who was physically and emotionally damaged? Oh, you don’t like that word, “damaged?” What word would you use? Let’s be real and use the words that fit. Realize too that “damaged” doesn’t mean “not valuable.” Actually, I think that God has a special place in His heart as we all should, for those who suffered at the hand of their parent – who was supposed to protect them.  FAS causes actual holes in the brain, which by the way, is caused by the birth mother’s drinking while carrying this child. It is a damage that cannot be fixed. Many times you’ll find a child with FAS will have reasoning problems, lack of impulse control, trouble learning, etc. I have seen these things managed through spiritual growth. It never goes away, but God can still direct the heart. 

2. I faithfully endured 18 years of lying, stealing, cheating, bitterness and rebellion – without reservation. I knew God gave me a job to do and did it to the best of my ability, faithfully – and may I add, without much help. There were times when we only had the Bible to refer to. There were no others around like us, no pastor could answer our questions, no one could offer us anything in counsel. I cannot list all the pastors that said, “I just don’t know what to tell you,” for they are too many. Yet God was faithful and sustained us.

3. Even after my child walked away from everything we’d taught her, I still continued to pray for her and welcome her back after it appeared she’d repented. This happened a dozen times, and each time we as parents were faithful. Each crisis that came, our counsel was always the same, love God, surrender to Him and your life will be peaceful and victorious. Yet, at each crisis, my words went unheeded and with each consequence, (and some of them were life altering) no changes were made toward following God and His Word.

4. I always counted her one of the family, regardless of what she did or how she treated me or other family members. Lies were told, accusations were made, yet I maintained my care for her. I did not choose to participate in her life when she was living contrary to God’s Word, for I too must answer to a righteous God who holds my life in His hands. But I never stopped hoping she’d do right and love her family. It’s funny to me that someone who lives such a wicked lifestyle can judge those who desire to stay out of it to be unloving. I haven’t changed these 20+ years other than hopefully progressing toward loving and knowing God more, and hopefully generated a bit more wisdom through it all.  Though I could understand some of the behavior due to genetics and brain disfunction (FAS) I still maintain that God is the God of healing and He alone can bring someone to a righteous life regardless of their limitations. Either way, there is no excuse.

5. Though battered about, disappointed, dishonored and at times sustaining irrepairable loss and damage, I have loved my children consistently. Have I wanted to be with them while they live apart from God? Absolutely  not. We are supposed to steer clear of those who live godless lives. (Romans 16:17  “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” Prov.  4:14 “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.”)

Did the prodigal’s father follow him to the pig sty and ask for pictures and a first hand account? NO! He, nor his other son, wanted to fellowship with that lifestyle. Did he love the boy when he returned? Absolutely! Did the other son accept him with loving arms? Uh, No. Do you know why? I do. I’ve lived it and have seen it in my own family. When the prodigal returns – even with a genuine repentent attitude, the other siblings resent them because of all the things he did to the family and how he hurt the father. They don’t believe the repentance is genuine because they saw the pain it caused the father. Don’t be too hard on the prodigal’s brother. Yes, he should have received the brother unconditionally after he returned in a penitent attitude, but remember, he had to stay behind and repair the ruins the prodigal left. My kids have grown tired of the pain that’s been brought into their parent’s lives by those who choose to live a sinful life. It really gets old when it happens over and over and seems to never stop. I am glad that God renews our days. I could not have endured or survived these past 25 years without His sustaining hand and the love of those children who do follow our Lord. And let me not fail to mention that I DO have loving faithful children who honor me and are an encouragement. I am thankful to them for their testimony of God’s grace.

6. Not one time have I said anything that would bely an unloving attitude. I have counseled according to Biblical principles. Oh, I haven’t minced words, I called sin “sin.”  I’ve told my kids that the day they leave our home in rebellion is the day they no longer receive any type of financial or housing help from us. I will not aid and abed children who do no honor their parents or appreciate with their actions the sacrifices we’ve made for them. God names us parents for some reason, so they are to recognize that when it comes time to plan their education, who they marry, etc.

7. Have you ever heard someone say that they didn’t feel that God loved them? Well, we know the problem isn’t with God, but the one who makes the accusation. They have lived in a way that has caused them guilt and separation from God. God never moved, He’s always been in the Heavens waiting for man to come to Him. He’s the perfect picture of a loving parent, yet people accuse Him wrongly. So, there is where I find my comfort. If God, the perfect parent can still love a rebellious child who raises his fist at Him, why can’t I with His help?

8. I could list the behavior and decisions of this child that questioned my love.  But I won’t do that, for it would be “answering a fool according to his folly.” But I will say that this child cannot go on fooling herself indefinitely. I just hope I live to see her come to the truth and acknowledge it. True love constrains – keeps us in check and urges us to put others first. (2 Cor. 5:14 “For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead.”) If we love God, we will love others and limit our actions to things that are only pleasing to Him, putting others ahead of ourselves. (1Cor. 10:24 “Let no man seek his own, but every man another’s wealth.”)

9. Even if I did lack love for my child, and showed that in my actions, it would not be prudent to advertise it. The very act itself proves a lack of spiritual and emotional maturity. It would not be honoring the parent who gave their life for that child. But at the same time it does shine a light on the maturity factor of the one who spoke it. (Prov. 10:12  “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.  Prov. 17:9 “He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” …might I add, families? ) No, it was not the sin of this mother or any other mother that separated the child from the family. It was the willful, rebellious sin of the child who chose the world over God and His plan. The mother has already proven her love over the lifetime of the child. It’s a “dun deal.” 

God is the only true judge and I am not afraid of His judgment. He’s been so good to me.

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One Response

  1. Sorry. When a child is little, he/she walks on your feet. When he/she gets older, he/she steps on your heart. I read somewhere the other day that parents with wayward children should realize that God had two children that He walked and talked with each and every day. They were taught from God Himself and yet chose to turn their back on Him and go their own way. Why do any of us choose the hard road? The question of the ages.

    Love you. Praying for your heart to heal and your child to realize how much you love her (I don’t know who it is and don’t need to know).

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