Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankfulness should equal action

As we approach the upcoming holiday, I eagerly look forward to spending time with (most) family members and look forward to all the good food that will be laid out in front of us.  You can scan the Internet and see all the stuff that others are thankful for then scan the black Friday ads to see where all the best sales and utter chaos will be.  You can save lots of money if you spend lots of money on more stuff.  All this stuff is good and all, but it makes my wife and I feel so empty, shallow, and full of questions when we look around our house.  Sure we want to raise our daughters to be thankful for what we have and appreciate what God has blessed us with, but it's just stuff.  We don't want to seem ungrateful for Christmas presents, big meals, and family gatherings, but that is not why we are here. 

Just last night our church had our annual Thanksgiving meal as a church body.  As I stood in the door and looked around, sadly I knew most everyone there.  There were a few guests, but not many.  Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good meal and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in Christ, but that meal last night could have been so much more.  Instead of eating last night, 6 of us packed up about 24 boxes of food to take and deliver to needy families in the community.  I am not patting us on the back for doing that, but it felt great to go out to these houses and bless them with food and a offer prayer for the family.  Each house we went to, and it only took 4 before we were out of boxes, was so welcoming and appreciative.  Three words kept popping into my head all weekend, "The least, the last and the lost."  It is what my preacher says and then I heard it in a podcast from Kay Warren.  I have written before about the least, the last and the lost with regards to orphans and adoption, but these folks are all around us.  One family we visited lived in a rough house in a rough area of town.  There were 4 adults and 9 children living there and a lady is having a baby in 2 weeks.  This family, who does not have much, took in another family who needed help.  They don't have much by our standards, but they were willing to give what they had to help others in need. 

What are we doing?  My wife and I both work in the school system and make good money for what we do.  We live in a house full of stuff we don't really need.  We tithe, give an offering, support a few good causes here and there, but what are we doing to help our neighbor?  Not enough.  Again, I am not blowing my horn, but take this as a challenge to the way we Christians do things.  This year for Christmas, we are not spending a bunch of money to go out and buy more stuff for each other.  We have decided to sit in front of the computer as a family on the Compassion website ( and let Ryleigh, our oldest daughter, go through the pictures and select a child to sponsor.  We want this to become real to her, not just a monthly check we send.  We want her to see the child's face and feel their hurts and know their struggles.  We want her to know just how blessed by God she is and see that there is something that we can do about the least, the last and the lost.  We will buy some presents for people, but it won't be the focus of Christmas.

Mother Teresa said, "When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed."  She also said, "It's the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish."


Imagine what Cynthiana, and Kentucky, and the world would be like if we had the eyes of Jesus and saw the world the way He does. 

I challenge you to do something different this holiday season.

Monday, November 8, 2010

What a week!

Early last week we spoke with St. Mary's about the status of our dossier.  We are chomping at the bit to get a referral and go get our child.  After speaking with them, they informed us that based on where we are in the process and the number of waiting families ahead of us, we probably would not be getting a referral until May or June.  Not what we wanted to hear, but we are reminded of the verse in Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  We have to be patient and know that God is working all of this out in His perfect timing and thankfully not in what we thought would be perfect.  With this time frame, we both will have to miss fewer days of school and have more time to save money and build our adoption fund up a little higher before heading over to Poland.  We were a little saddened by the time, but God is in control.

The other day my wife was on her way home with both girls asleep in the back of the van.  She decided to pull into McDonald's to get a tea and while ordering, Ryleigh sits up in her car seat and randomly says "cheeseburger" and immediately falls back to sleep.  Maybe she has some built in radar that goes off when there is happy meal potential. 

On Sunday, our church celebrated and recognized Orphan Sunday.  We worked with another couple to come up with a service geared to inform and challenge the congregation.  Our friends Dan and Stacy interviewed folks who had been touched by adoption and took their interviews and made a great video that was personal, had real people, and a real message.  It looked professional.  We also had a lady come and share her testimony of being a foster parent and mother of two adoptive girls.  It was awesome to hear how God put their family together.  She even wrote and sang a song about her experience.  Then came the sermon.  Our interim pastor would later admit that he forgot about Orphan Sunday until the service began.  However, he delivered one of his best sermons.  The challenge to the congregation to reach out to the "least, the last, the lost, the poor, the broken, the vulnerable, and the marginalized" was moving,  He shared personal stories from both he and his wife and how they had been raised by people other than their parents.  At the conclusion of both services, he invited folks up who had been adopted, who adopted, and who were adopting.  It was great to see some of our older members that were connected to adoption get up and come forward to support those of us in the process or some that had recently adopted.  In our second service, an older gentleman shared his testimony of adopting a child and years later losing him in a vehicle accident.  He cried.  We cried.  God moved in our church yesterday and is touching the hearts of many concerning adoption. 

The entire month of November is about adoption and orphan awareness.  Let's stand up and make a difference one child and one widow at a time.

Never take advantage of any widow or orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, you can be sure that I will hear their cry.     Exodus 22:22-23

Father to the fatherless, defender of widows — this is God, whose dwelling is holy. God places the lonely in families.      Psalms 68:5-6

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.      Isaiah 1:17