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    "Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events." ~Winston Churchill
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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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Virginia Trip Travel Log #4

The last two days we focused on getting Jillian’s front room finished. We’d painted the deacons bench, nightstand, shelf, and corner bookshelf. We bought all the little do-dads that she needed to complete the look. We hung everything that needed hanging.

She went with the Old World Style, a look that I am rather fond of myself. Here are pictures of my last day when we pulled it all together. I have to say, I think I enjoyed the process as much as she did. Maybe some day we will go into interior decorating together. We have many similar interests, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”
Don Williams, Jr. (American Novelist and Poet, b.1968)

I definitely enjoyed the journey as much as the destination in this case. So often we will see “before and afters” published but not the “in-betweens” – the grunt work, so to speak. Yet, I just can’t show the in-betweens – check out the “before and afters” on Love My DIY Home. We finished Jillian’s front room the night before I left for home.

It was with a happy heart I drove home. I spent nearly three weeks away from home visiting family – many people helped me on my trip. My peeps not only gave me gas money, shelter, and fed me, but they cared for me in a way I never ever expected. I will never get used to being loved. It’s a malady I will always carry with me, I suppose, because of the difficult times I have experienced in the past. But that can’t be such a bad thing, can it – to feel so blessed each time love is shown, to be in awe of the moment, to choose to look back over and over to relive it because it is such a treasured memory? I think not. I hope it never changes for me. I love being loved. I love knowing that a handful of people in my life will love me no matter what. Wow.

Here are some more pics of my trip. Such a blessed person I am!

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I stayed with family in Ohio on the way home – such a fun family they are!  Though I traveled alone, I had the support of family, church family, and friends. God showed me His faithfulness by protecting me and giving me people in my life who care. Thank you everyone for giving me such a memorable 3 weeks!

29 Days and Counting…

Yesterday we began the 30 day count down to an empty nest.  It is a new chapter in our life. It is a new way of living. It frees us up to serve God to our fullest potential much more than the last 28 years that kept us in the small, confining box of parenthood. It is the beginning of solitude and hopefully a new glimpse at God and what He has in store for us now that we are to be given a new set of wings – wings that could possibly take us to a world not yet known to us.

Two of our boys are going off to work at PCC in Florida until they begin college in the fall. Our other boy is going on to Job Corps. We will not have a child in our home again that we are responsible for 24/7.  The clock will hold new meaning – it will no longer be my master and I its slave.   

In reflection, I feel blessed to have parented for 28 years some of the most challenging and interesting children I’ve ever met. They have brought blessings from God that most have never seen and a joy that could only have been described as a glimpse of God. The other side of this gold coin of parenthood forced us to taste bitter disappointments and sorrow of heart. These years have taught me patience and compassion, reliance on God and a better perspective on who people are and what the world is. They have prepared me for the next chapter in my life that has blank pages ready to be written upon.

I now will enjoy a lateral relationship with my children – the relationship of one adult to another. We can decide where and when, why and how much or how long.  No more discipline. No more school work. No more middle of the night puking, heated discussions or rides to and from.  No more gum in the carpet, scratched non-stick cookware or moldy food in containers left in backpacks. No more smelly boys bedrooms!

There will be more breakfasts out with friends, garage sales and Bible study. I’ll have the freedom to work at church, visit a sick friend or open a photo studio. I’ll be able to go to the book store and read for hours, keep a smaller house and be with my grandkids more. In 29 days I’ll be able to sleep in – I think I could sleep for a year without waking up!

I’ve been asked how I’m going to handle an empty nest after having had 15 children in my home over a 28 year span. They think I’m joking when I tell them that first I’m having a party and they’re invited, or they think I’m terrible for being overjoyed that my children are leaving. But they don’t understand that by choice I’ve been a servant  to 15 children with seldom a break or hope of solitude for 28 years. Though I have had many happy moments, I have had as many sad and lonely moments, if not more. My mind is a whirl with a chance to have new choices – how I am going to minister to others in a way I was never able to do before.

I am excited that the next 28 years might not be one of exhaustion and fear of what’s going to happen next or what phone call I might get. I am thrilled to think that no longer will I be judged or scorned because of what one or more of my children have done. No longer will I be looked at by my children as the keeper of the key that could unlock their prison of demands to do right, be responsible and work faithfully. In their eyes I will just be Mom, the one they used to live with that loves them and cheers them on. Those apron strings will be cut much to the joy of the one wearing it and the one who was tied to it. We might even get the scissors bronzed and mounted like a deer head!

Over the next 29 days I’m going to list one new thing I might try or do with my new found freedom. I might even decide to go bungee jumping – uh, well, probably not.  My next post is going to be a list of things I’m going to try or do once I have the freedom of an empty nest. If anyone has ideas or suggestions, leave a comment! I definitely think this is going to be fun – wanna come along?

Parenting is Your Highest Calling & Eight Other Myths

Have you every had a passionate belief that you couldn’t put into words? You knew it had a Biblical foundation, but for the life of you, you couldn’t nail it down or explain it well enough without making you sound like you were making excuses or justifying yourself? This book, Parenting is Your Hightest Calling & Eight Other Myths by Leslie Leyland Fields does a great job at explaining the ins and outs of parental responsibility and dispels the myths that are so prevalant in Christian society – myths that I ran into in my parenting experience. 

 She outlines 9 myths that many parents buy into that can cause grief and disappointment when their parenting experience doesn’t the bring the results they’d expected. As a mother of 15 children, 13 of whom are special needs adopted, I saw how the blame game is easily entered into by those who have a tendency to judge others, especially Christian leaders who take credit for their own children’s successes. It is my desire to see that parents are encouraged and loved, not expected to be perfect or to take on the responsibility that was only God’s to begin with.

Here are the 9 myths Leslie outlines in her book:

1. Having Children Makes You Happy and Fulfilled.
2. Nurturing Your Children Is Natural
3. Parenting Is your Highest Calling
4. Good Parenting Leads to Happy Children
5. If You Find Parenting Difficult, You Must Not Be Following the Right Plan
6. You Represent Jesus to Your Children
7. You Will Always Feel Unconditional love for Your Children
8. Successful Parents Produce Godly Children
9. God Approves of Only One Family Design

Her basic premise is that we as parents are required by God to be faithful, to follow His basic guidelines for holy living and endeavor to teach the same precepts to our children. That’s it. We are to leave the results up to Him. He is the one who will woo their hearts, call them to repentance and a life of service to Him. We can’t do that. Only God is able to take our children and make them into something He can use.

I have seen and experienced the extreme pressure from others to measure up as the perfect Christian parent – too often reminded that “if we do our job, our kids will turn out right”  and “if they stumble and fall it is ultimately our fault.”  This advice is given without the slightest bit of acknowledgement that God is the One who shapes the believer and determines their path in life.  In her book, Leslie reminds us of parents in the Bible who lived a faithful, godly life only to experience disappointment in their parenting experience. The business of parenting is hard enough. We certainly don’t need to be bogged down by misplaced condemnation. This is a very encouraging book and I recommend it to every parent.

Thank you Leslie, for sending it to me. I wish I’d read it years ago.

You can get this book at Amazon.com for $11.19 and Christianbook.com  for $10.99.

A Plea for Help From an Adoptive Parent

I have a friend on my adoptive parents Yahoo email group who is in dire need of a solution to her family problem. She’s in the place we were months ago with no solution in sight. She has one week. I am asking prayer for her and her family as well as any input you all might has as to a solution. Below is part of her story from her blog, Adoption Drama…The System. She lives in Michigan. The comment in red with brackets is mine.

Michigan’s Post-Adoption Support Fails Youth, Families, and the Community.

I am an adoptive mom and a professional in the foster care system. I cannot sit back and watch the post adopt system fail our children. The children that are in adoptive homes today and those awaiting adoption. At the time of adoption, some children qualify for Michigan’s Adoption Subsidy support – medical and/or financial support. The concept of this support is to provide adopted children and their families with the support they need to meet the needs of the adopted child that were present prior to adoption. These needs are considered prior to signing of the adoption document. A family has to option of submitting documentation after the adoption is finalized to add other conditions that were present before adoption but not diagnosed until after adoption. No where in any of the support, does it say there is a limit to how much they will cover for the qualified condition.

My son is 16. He came into foster care when he was 4 and adopted when he was 5. The conditions he lived in prior to adoption have had a lasting impact on who he is and how he operates in society. Its like he is miss-wired because of the abuse he suffered (prenatal drug exposure, severe physical abuse and neglect). His behaviors started around age 6 and became out of control at age 12. Things continued to escalate and he went for residential treatment at 14 1/2 years of age. Well in the first facility, things got worse and he acted out more, placing more people in danger. He was moved to another residential program and spent the last 1 1/2 years there. He’s completed their program but not without incident. Their program has not addressed all of his behaviors or needs, but has touched the tip of the iceberg.

FUNDING HAS STOPPED. Despite the fact that he has not addressed the initial needs that placed him at risk or a danger to himself or others, FUNDING HAS STOPPED. It doesn’t seem to matter that the need hasn’t stopped – the qualifying need that got him adoption subsidy. But all they can say is, “FUNDING HAS STOPPED.”

The reality is that if he makes any of the same choices he made prior to going to residential treatment, he will go to prison. The reality is that he has lived in a very structured program of 2 years and they are just open the door and send him on his way. No transition back into the community, even though programs exist to help him transition back and be successful. All this because FUNDING HAS STOPPED.

Where is the adoption subsidy support that is suppose to help him get the care to address the needs without a limit? Without a limit doesn’t align with “Funding has stopped.” Helping him be as successful as he can be given the past he was dealt, isn’t a part of their plan. Where are my son’s rights to care and treatment from adoption subsidy?

The transitional program costs money. If I had the money, I’d pay for it myself. I don’t have the kind of money the program costs. I want nothing more than for my son and the other adopted children in the same situation and the foster children with the same struggles that are waiting to be adopted to have a chance for a successful future. To be given the opportunity to use the “support” from adoption subsidy they were promised. As adoptive parents, if we don’t pick them up when funding ends even though the need has not, the state threatens to file CPS neglect charges on the parent. Yet, Adoption Subsidy it the one who is neglecting their need and the agreement to support the treatment of that need. [If we bring them home and a child is hurt, we will be charged with “failure to protect. This is a lose/lose situation for the adoptive families.]

Please help me help my son and others in the same situation. Our funding is scheduled to end on 3/19/2010. Coming home places me and the other children in the home at risk due to his violent and sexual behaviors. He has threatened to kill me and tried once before. I love my son dearly and want for him to have a chance of being successful. Home and back in the community is not where he belongs right now.

Do you know a FASD/RAD child?

Click here for a pdf that explains RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and suggests how to deal with a child that may have attachment issues.

Click here for a pdf with some suggestions on how to handle a teen with FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder).

Note to family & friends: Read these to better understand some aspects of our family!

Adoption Disruption Article

Click here to read an article from the blog called “Welcome to My Brain.”  The article is about adoption disruption. It will give you a small idea of what some adoptive parents go through with difficult children – things most parents won’t share with you.

Pastors Falsely Arrested – Update

Email from Anna, Lisa’s friend about the Rodgerson and Burns family:

“Thank you so much for continuing to pray about this situation. There has not been a whole lot of change, but I’ll tell you what I know. Alethia is now being allowed to spend 8 hours at her parent’s house for 4 days during the week and then 4 hours a day for 3 days a week. Social workers drop in unannounced during these times to observe and report. This has been very hard to deal with considering the fact that the social workers twist things around to always put the parents in a bad light. For example……the social worker saw Elizabeth making homemade baby food for Alethia and asked her about it. Beth told them that it was more economical and healthier for the baby. In the social worker’s report they stated that the Burns cannot afford to buy food for Alethia…..they are trying to do anything they can to tear the family apart. Their next court date is Aug 3rd. Please pray that the prosecutor will have a change of heart and will either drop the charges or at least start being honest.

Aaron(my brother-in-law) will have his first court date Aug 3rd. He is planning on pleading not guilty and I think they will be asking for a “change of venue” –new judge and a different city. He is also going to ask for a quick and speedy trial (something he has a constitutional right to have). this way the lawyers can’t drag everything out for months and months wracking up legal fees. [FYI: if he was found guilty for the practicing law without a license charge the maximum penalty he would face is a $100 fine. It’s a petty thing but apparently worth putting him in jail over and making my sister pay $1000 to get him out]

My sister has been out of town with Daniel for a while so it’s a little harder to stay in touch with her to get updates, but when anything changes I will keep everyone posted. Thank you so much for your prayers “Prayer can only do what God can do”. Please keep praying!!!!!”

Integrity Amongst Strangers

Well, we’re half way through another miracle and anticipating God will complete it this week. We’ve been through a lot waiting for our son’s needs to be met and acted on. We’ve done all the leg work and are just waiting for the phone call. This posting is in recognition of all those who have jumped in and helped our family. The amazing thing is that some of them don’t even know us. They are a credit to humanity – those who care even though it may not personally affect them. They are our modern day heroes and our appreciation goes way beyond the typical “thank you.” We’re not out of the woods yet, but we are trusting God to make it all turn out right.

First there are those who have prayed for us. I have a long list of friends and family that have faithfully presented their petition for help on our behalf before the throne of God.  There have been times I have felt angels all around us, protecting us. We’ve gotten calls and emails of encouragement and advice that I know God ordered up just for me.

Thank you to those who have advocated for us. Without you, we would not have faired so well. You have gone above and beyond the call of duty.  In this world of take, take, take, it is so refreshing to meet folks that are willing to give. There is a lawyer who has done things to bring attention to our situation and hasn’t asked for a dime.  A big “thank you” goes to Atty. John Lewis. I was referred to him by Carol Cole, a friend on a FAS Parents Yahoo Group of which I’m a member. Without her advice and referrals to people who have helped us, we’d be in dire straits. Then there is Rep. Alma Wheeler Smith and her assistant, Ann Brown, who have shown their support toward adoptive parents by attending meetings and making phone calls. I spoke with Ann and she assured me she would do what she could to help us. I find that truly amazing. This world is full of troubles with no hope. God has connected us up with people who have integrity. I have never experienced such support for our family before. These folks not only encouraged us with their words but made calls, sent emails and faxes to those who had the ability to fix our situation. Truly amazing. 

I ask continued prayer and support so we might fight this fight for our family – that those in power would do the right thing and help us – that they’d listen to reason and have honesty and good character in their dealings.

God can do great things and I am thankful He has found people He can work through.  God can cause anyone to do His will. We know His will is that our family come out of this safely and remain whole. It is time for Him to take over and do a great work. We are at the point where we’ve done all we can and now must wait.

Here is the verse I am claiming:  Proverbs 21:1-2   “The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.  Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.”

Job’s Friends – Part 4

Continued from 2.7.09 posting, Job’s Friends Part 3.

We’ve been told that we are too easy on our kids, too hard on them, too watchful and that we need to watch them closer. We’ve been told we are too controlling by some but are blamed when they do something wrong when they’re with others. We’ve been told we need to give them room to breathe, that we have to let them have some freedom to make their own decisions, but when they make their own decisions and mess up, it’s our fault. We’ve been told to not use the Bible for a “punishment” like assigning verses to write out or memorize, and we’ve been told it should be used for correction. We’ve been told we’re wrong for treating them all as individuals, for a parent should always treat all their kids the same.  Yet, the same people were nice to some of our kids and rejected others.  We’ve been told by some people that they admire what we’ve done for the Lord in adopting so many tough kids and the same day we were told by someone else that we should never be in the ministry with the kind of kids we adopted because we were such a bad example of a ministry family.  It seems we are to be a perfect family in the eyes of church members, someone they can all look up to – but according to the church members who we were closest to, the ones who loved our family, we were the perfect example of a family who loved others with Christ’s love – especially the children that were hard to love.

We’ve been told that as Christians we should reach out to those in the world and offer Christ as the solution, to be active in our community and disciple and care for the poor. But then we are told out of the same mouth that we should have never adopted these “types of children” if we wanted to be in full-time ministry because they are trouble makers and make us look bad. We are told to be forgiving and compassionate but then hear from the same person how rotten one or more of our kids are and how they deserve to pay for what they’ve done. My kids have been lied to, put down, criticized, verbally abused, held to a higher standard than others, called names, and singled out and made an example. Yet, the same people walk around ignoring their own kids’ bad behavior and lift them up as greater than sliced bread. Those that were hardest on our kids have a past of being kind and forgiving to their own. Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right to me.

I’ve come to the conclusion that people just don’t understand. They haven’t lived the life we have, nor do they love our kids like we do. Even though my children are terrible sinners, God loves them and so do I. Should they pay for their mistakes? Should they suffer because of bad decisions? Yes and no. Yes, sin is awful and we must repent and go to God and others to make it right. But we also need to remember that God at one time picked US up out of the mirey clay and set US on a rock. We weren’t such a great bargain either. Yet, He loves us and manages our life so that He can be glorified and also seeks our good at the same time. As parents, we have consistently brought discipline into our kids’ life to teach them to do right, but we never should bring discipline into their life to hurt them, to show who’s boss or to make them “pay.” We ought to always operate in a way that pushes them toward the Savior, not toward anger and bitterness.

I’ve recently been in a situation where I now can understand the Scripture that tells a us not to punish in a way that creates bitterness. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.”  Eph. 6:4  Many of our children came into our home with bitterness, and others developed it over time through circumstances we couldn’t control. It is our job, even if they sin in their bitterness, to not cause them reason to embrace it even more than they have already. These are kids. They’ve been hurt by adults in their life. They didn’t choose it. They didn’t deserve it, yet it happened. Let’s not make it worse by confirming to them that all adults are cruel and not to be trusted. We have an excellent opportunity to show these kids that God really does love and that He can love them through us.

Mt 18:23 “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

 Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.

 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.

 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”  to be continued…

Thanks, Mom

WHY I LOVE MY MOM

Mom and Dad were watching TV when Mom said, ‘I’m tired, and it’s getting late. I think I’ll go to bed’

She went to the kitchen to make sandwiches for the next day’s lunches. Rinsed out the popcorn bowls, took meat out of the freezer for supper the following evening, checked the cereal box levels, filled the sugar container, put spoons and bowls on the table and started the coffee pot for brewing the next morning.

She then put some wet clothes in the dryer, put a load of clothes into the washer, ironed a shirt and secured a loose button. She picked up the game pieces left on the table, put the phone back on the charger and put the telephone book into the drawer. She watered the plants, emptied a wastebasket and hung up a towel to dry.

She yawned and stretched and headed for the bedroom. She stopped by the desk and wrote a note to the teacher, counted out some cash for the field trip, and pulled a text book out from hiding under the chair. She signed a birthday card for a friend, addressed and stamped the envelope and wrote a quick note for the grocery store. She put both near her purse.

Mom then washed her face with 3 in 1 cleanser, put on her Night solution & age- fighting moisturizer, brushed and flossed her teeth and filed her nails.

Dad called out, ‘I thought you were going to bed.’ ‘I’m on my way,’ she said.

She put some water into the dog’s dish and put the cat outside, then made sure the doors were locked and the patio light was on. She looked in on each of the kids and turned out their bedside lamps and TV’s, hung up a shirt, threw some dirty socks into the hamper, and had a brief conversation with the one up still doing homework.

In her own room, she set the alarm; laid out clothing for the next day, straightened up the shoe rack. She added three things to her 6 most important things to do list She said her prayers, and visualized the accomplishment of her goals.

About that time, Dad turned off the TV and announced to no one in particular. ‘I’m going to bed.’ And he did…without another thought.

Job’s Friends – Part 2

…continued from 2.5.09 posting, Job’s Friends Part 1.

Now, you know what I’m going to say next right? Job’s friends – that was the subject of this posting wasn’t it? I have some “Job’s friends.”  These are the types that caused the saying, “With friends like these, who needs enemies?” 

I have had wonderful friends who have stuck by me through thick and thin, off and on through my lifetime. I wish it had been more “on” than “off,” but God knew when we needed someone with “skin on.” God planted them in the right place and right time to offer that helping hand – as if it were God’s hand itself, just to pick us up and dust us off. We got pretty dusty and dirty in the trenches day in and day out. They just loved us and left it at that. He provided friends here and there during the times that were too much for us to handle or in the midst of battle where we couldn’t see our way clear. I wish I could say we had someone by our side through it all, but for the most part it hasn’t been that way. Of course, like I’ve said many times, my mom was always there for moral support. But besides her, Mark and I were pretty much alone to figure things out.

My “Job’s friends” have come in the form of friends, relatives, teachers, co-workers, advisors, pastors, doctors, neighbors, etc. that have felt they had that magical message to bring us that would make everything work out. They are the ones who throw Scripture at you or the “I think that…” advice that so freely flowed out of their mouth without solicitation.  Or they’d discuss our family with other people, voicing their opinion about how we should do things. Of course, they had no personal experience or any type of proof to back up their advice, yet they freely gave it anyway. They wouldn’t get to know us before offering their advice, nor would they stop to think that it was unsolicited. It is seldom that I will ask advice simply because someone inexperienced in our type of ministry just isn’t given any credence in my mind. That may sound harsh, but it is our reality.

The only exception is the occasional led by the spirit pastor or friend whos life is saturated with Bible principles and is very good at making application. He’s the one who starts out with, “I can’t speak from personal experience, nor do I know your entire situation, but have you considered…” They don’t begin to understand but care enough to provide Biblical principles to aid in our decision if we indicated we needed advice. They don’t tell us we’re doing it wrong, or are responsible for their behavior because they realize they just don’t know everything like “Job’s friends” do.  Besides, if he is led by the Spirit, then certainly Satan wouldn’t be able to sway him into being judgmental. Sometimes God uses their comments to give us an idea on how to handle a situation or simply to encourage us to continue being faithful. The critical comments or unsought for advice only caused us to walk away discouraged, realizing how alone we really are. I had a niece recently send me a very encouraging email that was so compassionate that it sounded like God wrote it Himself. Many times when a friend and I would be talking about something in our life, one of us would say, “I just wish God would send me an email and let me know what to do next.” I can honestly say I finally got an email from Him – because someone spoke out of the heart, a heart that was owned by God. That is what I strive to do – because I have learned out of personal experience what heartache is and what it’s like to be judged unfairly by another.

To be continued…

 

 

 

Job’s Friends – Part 1

In times of trouble, most people tend to reach out to others for comfort or assistance. Over the years we learned not to even try, for there was none to be had. I can’t count the number of times we’ve gone to evangelists, special speakers, Bible teachers, pastors, etc.  for advice on how to raise our difficult children and been met with the same ol’ answer, “I don’t know what to tell you.” It never failed. So we just quit trying. Now this is not to say that the people weren’t kind hearted or knowledgeable about Scripture. On the contrary, they were usually very learned, compassionate people. That’s why we went to them to begin with because we sensed in them a good heart. But what we were asking was out of the ordinary.

I remember one time in particular when we were at Northland Family Camp, there was a speaker there that outlined the four steps in discipline: a look, a word, discipline, separation. First we’re to give them “the look” to let them know they were out of bounds in their behavior. Many children stop here and change their behavior. Some require the next step: verbal correction. If the child continues on, then we are to administer correction, whether that be spanking, time outs or whatever is deemed necessary and appropriate. He went on to say that if nothing works and the child seems to be unable to take any type of correction, then the parent must consider other means – whether that be kicking the older child out of the home, or finding a children’s home for the younger child. There is Biblical basis for his message, but we wanted to know what to do with children who were like ours, the mentally or emotionally damaged child who don’t seem to have the ability to learn through conventional “disciplinary measures.” It’s not unusual for a Fetal Alcohol Affected child to either not understand or remember a disciplinary measure. These children live in the moment and struggle with reasoning and personal application of instruction.

To them, “the look” was a challenge to be more crafty or sneaky. It’s affirmation that they are slipping up and need to be more careful about how they plan their next gig. The spoken word is just fluff in their eyes – it’s another warning that they were caught and need to be more careful next time. It’s a warning that they’re about ready to be punished and have pushed the limits, to back off and try again later when no one is looking. The third step, the discipline, is something to be endured and tuck away in their memory that no adult can be trusted and they must just endure so they can get on with their life. It doesn’t change or teach them, it’s just another bump in the road. They look at it as an expression of just how dumb adults really are and affirmation that they are to be hated. It didn’t matter that we weren’t the adults who failed them prior to coming into our home through adoption – all adults were alike in their eyes.

We were in a whole different ball game than most parents and were seeking advice on how to throw the next pitch. But no one knew, so we stopped asking. We grabbed our Bible and tried to glean as much information and wisdom as we could find. It withstood the test of time, obviously, for it is the beginning of all things and the hope in all situations. But it wasn’t necessarily an easy path to take. There were no true stories or parables that fit. We couldn’t find any verses that dealt with raiding the food pantry at night to steal food or what to do when a child drew pictures on the bathroom wall with their own waste. It didn’t tell me what to do when a child’s head turned around in circles…OK, that never happened, but I was expecting it to!  It didn’t tell me how to deal with the every day things that are so absent from normal households. Yet it gave me principles to go by and the assurance that our loving Father was there to guide us. We had to learn to walk in the Spirit and hear that still small voice in the din of everyday life with 15 little ones all vying for my attention – good or bad, it was all the same to them!  Of the 15 children, 13 are adopted and 12 were special needs. That means we only had three who had a proper view of life, untainted from the world, and the rest, well, you get the picture.  Needless to say, if the preachers and teachers didn’t have the answers, who would?   To be continued…

 

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.