Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Message of Your Home: Tick-Tock, Bye-Bye Clocks!

“Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). 

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve done  very little decorating in our current home. I have, however, tried to carry over a few principles that I put into practice in our Little House on the Corner. Like the Master Bedroom Haven, conversation starters in the dining room, and my bucket of rocks (yeah, we’ll get to that one, hold on). And the fact that I didn’t hang clocks. Anywhere.

If you come visit me, you might notice that the only time pieces are the digital clocks on my kitchen appliances. Or you might not. You might just lose track of time and never realize it. YES, that is all part of my maniacal plan to lure you into my lair and keep you forever! Just kidding. Or am I?

If there is a clock in the room, I watch it. I noticed in our first apartment that I was constantly glancing up at the clock, feeling rushed along by that little hand that sternly pointed out how far behind I always was. I also noticed how frequently our guests glanced at the clock and seemed to feel that they were imposing if they stayed more than an hour.

When we moved into our house I decided to see what would happen if I just didn’t hang clocks. And you know what? I was so much less stressed! I moved through the days at a slower pace, but somehow ended up getting more done, in a more relaxed manner. Better yet, I noticed something delightful happening when we had guests over. They stuck around and enjoyed themselves until they were ready to go home! My husband led Bible studies in our living room that continued until they had reached a natural stopping point instead of being dictated by time. Visitors commented that time seemed to stand still when they came over and they were surprised at how long they had stayed. I like to think that’s partly because we’re kind of fun people to be around, but I largely attribute this to the fact that our guests didn’t feel the pressure of a ticking time bomb on the wall. They were able to relax and, for just a little while, forget about living life according to a clock.

If you can’t see yourself totally chunking all clocks, consider banning them from certain rooms. My main purpose for my living room is to provide a relaxed atmosphere where friends and family can comfortably gather and enjoy time with one another. So, at the very least, clocks are prohibited in that room. I don’t want people to feel on edge, or wonder if they’ve overstayed their welcome. When you’re in my living room, I want you to stay as long as you want, regardless of the time.

The most important mission this practice accomplishes is that it allows us more time to share the Gospel. When we have nonbelievers over, we are able to have in-depth conversations with them that focus on Christ without worry over how late it is getting. And they don’t have that quick out of, “Oh, look at the time, I really must be going!” They simply get immersed in the Word and forget to fret over how long they have stayed. That’s pretty awesome to watch.

There you have it. One of my secrets to decorating a comfortable home: Buh-bye, Clocks! (Except, everyone loves whimsical or antique clocks… Those can still add splendor to your home – just don’t set them to the correct time :) ).

Of course, we do keep an eye on the time. We glance at the oven clock to make sure we make it to services when we’re supposed to. And we do have alarms on our phones. But, in daily life, we take our time because we are no longer slaves to the time. And that’s something you can give your guests without putting any effort into it. Probably without them ever even knowing what it is exactly that makes your home so relaxing. One friend came over every week, sometimes multiple times a week, for months before looking around one day and observing, “Hey… You guys don’t have any clocks. I never took the time to notice that before.”

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Message of Your Home: Introduction Take Two

Several years ago I wrote a post about decorating your home with purpose. It was supposed to be a series but I never got more than one post up. I’m hoping to actually write that series now (but no promises on how far we’ll get ;-)
When others walk into my home, I want them to immediately feel a sense of peace, comfort, and joy. Of course, it is the residents of the home who bring these characteristics to life and impart them to others, but I believe that attitudes and emotions are greatly influenced by surroundings.
I hate clutter. When I am in a messy, chaotic room with belongings strewn across the floor, dirty dishes piling up on tables, and yesterday’s diapers perfuming the air, I feel pretty grouchy. Just walking into a room like that makes my shoulders slump and my jaw tighten. On the other hand, when I walk into a tidy room with tasteful decorations, cozy corners, and warm scents, I feel relaxed. I feel invited. I don’t feel like I’ve barged in where I’m not wanted. Can you relate?
In our Little House on the Prairie (like, literally, we live on a prairie – I’m totally psyched about that fact, by the way). Um, as I was saying… I have put very little thought into decorating our current Little House. I pretty much just threw up what we had when we moved in and hit the ground running in our new work. And you can tell. Pretty much the only appeal to my home is that it’s full of love and it’s generally clean – or at least, not disgusting. Most of the time. Some of the time? Anyway…
In our previous home (our Little House on the Corner) I tried to be very intentional in the way I decorated. I put thought into the purpose of each room, and I carefully chose items that emphasized that purpose. If it didn’t point to the goal of the room or have some other practical use it either had to move to a different location or leave my house. I had no space for useless junk. Aaah, I liked that house….
But I digress.
God appreciates beauty. Just look around at the stars, the flowers, the peacocks and other magnificent creatures in the animal kingdom. The world is gorgeous! A desire to surround oneself with beauty does not automatically mean one is a vain lover of worldly things. God Himself created a beautiful environment in which He placed Adam and Eve. But what was the purpose of the beauty God created in nature? 
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1). 
It all points back to Him.
My main goal for putting thought into decorating is to help point others to Christ. Does that sound weird? That you can communicate the Gospel in part by how you beautify your home? Maybe that’s not your thing. Maybe you are like I have been here and are just happy if you’ve got something covering all the windows. You do NOT have to be into decorating in order to be a Proverbs 31 woman. But, those of you who are interested in beautifying your home in order to spread a little of God’s comfort and love just might want to stick around for a few posts.

Monday, January 1, 2018

A Merry Little Christmas

Another Christmas is in the books, and oh what a Christmas it was!

We always try to keep Christmas simple, but we decided to make this year even more minimalistic. Last year the kids got SO much love from our extended family that once we included our gifts, Christmas Day was a bit overwhelming. We want them to enjoy each gift they receive instead of drowning in wrapping paper, so this year we allowed them each to open some gifts leading up to Christmas to cut down on the number of presents they open at one time. Joshua and I both come from largish families who like to dote on our kids, so even with this strategy each child still had one or two gifts to open on Christmas Day.

We’re what I would call “comfortable minimalists.” We do have more than two sets of clothes each, but we try not to have more than what we actually like and use. We try not to buy things just for the sake of having “stuff” for the kids to open on Christmas. I can’t stand clutter, and they don’t need a bunch of toys they are going to forget about in two weeks. With that in mind, we decided to do very little in the way of gifts this year.

We bought Baby’s first Bible, as we always do on our babies’ first Christmases. I bought two things from the dollar store that the other kids needed, and we bought a tool for our oldest who is learning how to build birdhouses. That was about the extent of the items we actually bought. The kids and I made salt dough ornaments for Papa who (until now) didn’t have any ornaments of his own to put on the tree. I re-gifted one of the gifts that the kids received multiples of last year (and they were still just as excited to get it again haha). Their big gift was a play kitchen and an easel that Joshua found by the side of the road. They were missing a couple pieces, but otherwise just needed a bit of cleaning up to be good as new.

The best part of the gifts was their stockings. We have a tradition born of a bit of last minute fun a few years ago. One year my family came to visit a couple of weeks before Christmas and we celebrated with them early. On Christmas Eve Joshua and I decided we wanted to put a little something in the kids’ stockings even though they weren’t expecting anything the next morning. We went around the house stuffing in random items – old cell phones, toys from our childhood, tea bags, fruit. Joshua and I had a blast adding funny little things that we already owned, and the kids were thrilled to find their full stockings on Christmas Day.

This has become one of our family’s favorite Christmas traditions. Joshua and I always look forward to Christmas Eve when we have fun together filling stockings with weird things without spending any money. And the kids always look forward to seeing what strange things Mama and Papa came up with this time. There are always lots of giggles and lots of squeals of excitement as they open their stockings to find treasures new and old.

This year’s stash included:  flash cards, a puzzle, finger puppets, chapstick, a purse, and leaping frogs, all of which the kids had forgotten we had. Each stocking also contained: a piece of chocolate, a disposable straw, a peppermint stick, a special cup, a candy cane, and a green apple.

Oh, and they each received a roll of toilet paper. (That brown blob sitting on the toilet paper in the picture is chocolate, by the way. Not poop. Just wanted to clear that up.)

The toilet paper proved to be one of our best ideas. After all the gifts were opened and everyone had eaten Christmas dinner we played games with the toilet paper. We had a contest to see who could roll up their toilet paper the fastest. We had a balancing game to see who could walk the line of toilet paper without stepping off (adapted for Little Miss to see if she could roll her wheelchair down the hall without touching the toilet paper with her wheels). We competed to see who could throw their roll of toilet paper the farthest. We had a “tree decorating” contest where Monkey1 and Monkey2 were the “trees” and Mama and Papa decorated them with toilet paper. And lastly we had a “snowball fight” with wads of toilet paper.

It was So. Much. Fun!

We love giving gifts to our kids. We love that they receive wonderful gifts from others. But we don’t want that to be the main thing about Christmas for our kids. We try to focus most on having fun together as a family. Traditions like making a gingerbread house, going to look at lights on Christmas Eve, playing games on Christmas Day, watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” and eating a simple but scrumptious dinner is what makes the season feel like Christmas to us.

Because this year’s budget was so tight, in the days leading up to Christmas I felt a little sorry for how little we were doing. But it ended up being hands down the best Christmas we’ve ever had! Kids don’t care how much you spend on their gifts. They don’t care if it’s brand new. The little ones don’t even care if it was already theirs before you gave it to them! We were able to focus on relaxing and having fun as a family without the stress of making sure we got the perfect gift for each child.

We laughed. A lot. We snuggled. We enjoyed the gifts we received from others.

And we gave thanks.

For our family.

For life.

For love.

For God bringing us through the hardest year of our lives.

And for the simple joys of Christmas.

Monday, December 25, 2017

The Tree Hunt Before Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone!


Just came across a picture my sister took from our tree hunting escapade a couple weeks ago. This photo sums it all up so well. You guys. This was the WORST tree hunting experience I’ve EVER had. It was also our first. So, that was our first mistake. Going tree hunting for the first time as a family of SEVEN. Seven people plus an aunt who all have to agree on the perfect tree. We thought we would go out on a merry adventure, find our little tree, cut it down, cart it home, and all decorate it together like a happy little family, singing Christmas carols all the while. Ha. Hahaha. It went something more like this…
Joshua: “Who needs heavy coats to go tree hunting? It’s only 45° on the PRAIRIE!”
We get to the tree farm and, “Whoa, 45° feels a lot colder here…”
To say that we were a little underdressed would be an interesting way of expressing things. Thankfully we had a couple extra blankets in the car to wrap Baby in. There was no snow, but there was a lot of mud. Oh, so much mud. Monkey4 was so attracted to the mud that he kept face planting into it every couple of steps. This shocked and appalled the little guy. My phone was very attracted to it, too. It flew out of my hand dove into a brown puddle as I tried to snap a quaint picture of the boys walking toward the trees.
We had brought Little Miss’ stroller along instead of the wheelchair. Has anyone tried to push a 33lb child uphill in six inches of mud? How’d that go for ya? Ten steps in and the wheels were so caked with mud that all you could see was blobs of brown.

Anyway, we walked and walked all over that farm looking for the perfect tree. And we finally found a pretty good one. But wait… There on the horizon stood the most beautifulest Christmas tree we had seen all day. It was only a little farther down the hill. We walked (swam?) through the mud to inspect the gorgeous tree. Yes, we all agreed, it was perfect. We took a family picture beside it, as you can see below. We were a happy tree hunting family.
Papa pulled out the saw to start cutting that beauty down and… We hear him groan from under the branches. “What?!” We all shout in concern.
“It’s two trees.”
Come again?
“It’s two trees grown up right beside each other. If we cut one of them down it will look like we have half a tree.”
Of course. Of COURSE it had to be two trees…
But there was still the first tree we’d picked out. We would just go back to our original choice. Sure, it wasn’t quite as pretty as the two-tree-wonder. But it was still a nice tree. As we reached the top of the hill headed back to that first tree we heard a terrible sound. It was the sound of a little boy standing in front of our tree saying, “Yes, Dad, this is the one!” And then the sound of another family’s saw cutting our Christmas tree down. We watched them drag our tree away, along with five other near-perfect trees. Sigh.
The hunt began again. By this time there were tears. Baby was hungry. Two little boys had to go potty. I’m fairly certain Little Miss has never been so cold in her life. She seemed terrified that her hands might never get warm. I tried carrying her to comfort her. We fell in a hole. We put her back in her stroller. She and the stroller tipped over. It was a deesaster.
We decided to put Little Miss, the aunt, and the baby (two of whom were quite grumpy by this point) in the car while the rest of us settled on a tree. And you know what? We ended up stumbling on the most perfect Christmas tree I’ve ever had. More beautifuler even than that two-tree deceiver. We hacked it down, dragged it through the mud, strapped it to the roof, and wearily traipsed home. That blue spruce now graces our living room with enchanting majesty. Just don’t look at the back of the tree. The mud monster wouldn’t completely let go.

The End.

Friday, December 15, 2017

I Make Broth from Scratch but I Feed My Kids Frozen Pizza for Lunch

        I scrolled Facebook recently and read about all the amazing things my friends are able to accomplish in a single 24 hour day. One friend had just served her family a three course dinner on a weeknight. Another friend was in the middle of remodeling her house, mostly on her own. My sister-in-law posted a picture of the beautiful yarn she had just hand-dyed (she’s so awesome!). All my friends seem to pull off the image of perfect wife and mother with creative ease, and I’m over here like, “I took a shower today! Go me!”

I wondered how in the world they do it all. How do they cook, and clean, and homeschool, and give speeches, and dote on their husbands, and find time for their own hobbies, all while staying in shape, organizing nonprofit events, and balancing a baby, two toddlers, and a 4th grader? What’s their secret?

Here’s the secret (and I know you know this): they don’t all do it all!

I found myself looking at my friends as if they were all one person. As if the same person who cooked a gourmet meal also gutted her kitchen and restored it to its 1940s glory, all in the same day. As if the woman with six children under the age of six is the same woman who runs an international business from her home. As if the person who founded an international orphanage for special needs children is the same person who owns a dairy farm and makes her own cheese.

                            How silly.

But, that’s how moms feel sometimes when they look at the accomplishments of those around them and then survey the chaos that has exploded in their own living rooms. They feel like everyone else is able to juggle all areas of life with grace while they struggle simply to throw food on the table three times a day.

I was surprised (more like shocked) when someone told me recently, “You just seem to have it all together.” Girl. Have you seen my bathroom? Have you heard the way I snap at my kids when I get hangry? Do you realize I still haven’t written thank-you notes for the gifts we received at our baby shower back in March?

Just in case you see a snippet of my life in your newsfeed and think that I have anything (much less everything) together, let me tell you...

·  I make chicken broth from scratch because I believe it’s super healthy for my family. I also feed my kids frozen pizza for lunch. Go figure.

·  I make my own laundry detergent because it’s cheaper. I also gave up cloth diapering and buy disposables because, though more expensive, they’re easier!

·  I take my husband’s shoes off when he gets home, but I don’t get up to make him breakfast before he leaves for work.

·  I make my kids say “please” and “thank you,” but I’ve done a terrible job at teaching them to say “ma’am” and “sir.”

·  We do devotional with the kids every night, but we don’t always eat together as a family.

·  I keep a decently clean house most of the time, but I don’t read to my kids every day.

·  I make my kids brush their teeth every night, but – Okay, we won’t go there ;-)

I believe all those things are important, but I struggle to do all of them all the time.

There is always a trade-off.

Making the choice to do one thing always means making the choice not to do something else. It doesn’t mean you’ll never do that other thing, it just means you can’t do it while you do what you need or want to do in this moment. You get to decide what your priorities are, and they do not have to be the same as mine. As long as they are lining up with God’s top priorities for your life, you’re good.

       As women we like to pride ourselves on our ability to multitask. We can bounce a baby on one hip while whipping up supper, paying bills, checking emails, and grading school assignments. We are supermoms, after all. But, no matter how good you are at multitasking, you still have to make the choice not to do something. While you’re busy doing that impressive dinnertime dance, there is no way you can also write an award winning novel, teach an expert class on essential oils, and give your husband the undivided attention he deserves all at the same time. No one does it all, and especially not all at once.

          We adopted a little girl and gave birth to our fifth kid this year. Now is not the time for me to plan a huge vegetable garden, pursue my dream of flipping houses, or even teach Bible class. As great as those things are, they are not things I’m capable of doing right now, and that’s okay. I do what I can, and that’s enough.

         I make the choice to improve my family’s eating habits by cooking what I can from scratch, while also recognizing that there are seasons when sandwiches and juice boxes are going to have to do. I make the choice to save my family money by putting a little extra work into making my own housecleaning products, while at the same time choosing to spend a little extra money on other things simply to make life less stressful.

          When you observe someone from afar, it’s easy to see the  things they are able to do and assume that they have mastered life. But, remember, there are only 24 hours in their day, too. They may look like they’re able to do it all, but they’re not. Their excellence in one area means that they struggle in another. Just like you. You may not be the perfect homemaker, but you’ve got some mad skills. And, hey, if the most impressive thing you do in a day is point your kids to Jesus, you’re doing a pretty awesome job, chica. Well done.

          Now go forth and start that homemade vegetable soup to simmering, then go hand out cookies and enjoy your kids’ smiles. They’ll know you’re something pretty special.

" to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing" (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

What’s your trade-off? What’s something cool you do but are only able to do because you do something else a little less impressive?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

When International Adoption is a Waste of Money

A little over a year ago we took our first trip to Bulgaria. Upon returning home, I wrote the following post. I didn’t end up publishing it at the time because I didn’t feel like I had found the right words. Those “right words” never came. I’m sharing anyway.


“People who say that international adoption is an unwise use of God’s money just don’t know.” 

I listened to my friend, the mother of two internationally adopted children, and I nodded my head in agreement. I thought I knew what she meant. I have been so frustrated throughout our adoption process to hear people say that international adoption is poor stewardship of God’s money. That we really should be adopting through foster care because it’s free. Or that we should be using our money to support Gospel preachers instead. Leave it to the orphanages to care for the kids.

I know these comments are made with the best of intentions, but most of these comments are also made in ignorance. People tell us, “Your money is better spent supporting orphan homes where they can care for many children.” These good-hearted people have no idea of the damage caused by growing up in an institution – even a “Good” one. They can’t possibly know. Surely they don’t understand. If they did, they would never say such a thing. Never.

I thought I understood.

When my adoptive friends relayed to me the things they saw in orphanages overseas, I cried with them. When they told me of little babies who lie in cribs staring up at the ceiling for hours without making a sound, I got chills. When they described how the children are lined up and force-fed a liquid diet no matter their age, and the bruises they acquire simply due to malnutrition, I was angry. How could anyone hear of children living in these conditions and not know that it is worth every penny it takes to get them into a safe, loving home?

But I didn’t understand the half of it. And in truth, I still don’t.

I thought I was prepared to walk into the orphanage where our daughter has lived since she was born. They tried to warn us. They told us that our daughter’s Center is one of the better ones, but that it would still not be “Good.” I had read and researched and talked to other adoptive parents. I thought I was ready. It wasn’t as if I have never been outside the U.S. I’ve been to third world countries, and I didn’t think this could be much worse than what I had previously seen. But I underestimated what it would be like to walk into that building for the first time, knowing this is where my little girl has been raised.

When we first arrived, a nurse unlocked the front door and led us into a dark, musty corridor. There were no lights. Concrete walls and floors surrounded us like a prison cell. We could hear the screams of a baby coming from somewhere on the second floor. The unheeded cries echoed throughout the building; the only sound to break the eerie silence.  

We waited with our translator while the nurse went to get the Doctor who was on call in the Director’s absence. Down the hall, a baby was swinging – the only other person in sight. It was as if the orphanage was nearly abandoned. Yet, we later learned that there were children in every room lining those halls. Children who never made a sound.

The Doctor greeted us warmly and led us into her office where we met with her and the Psychologist. They told us as much as they could about our little girl’s history and personality. They were helpful, caring, and as open as they were permitted to be. Little Miss was obviously a favorite, and they were more than happy to answer most of our questions.

During this conversation we met Little Miss for the first time. She was wheeled into the room, and the next few moments were a mix of joyful tears and nervous giggles. To read more about our first visits with her, click here.

Over the course of the week, we got to see a good bit of our daughter’s environment. She lives on the second floor with the young babies because of her limited mobility. There are eight children in her ward, and she is the oldest by far. This has pros and cons. She rarely interacts with any children, and she doesn’t know what to make of creatures her own size. She also doesn’t know how to play with age appropriate toys, or how to get attention without babbling like a nine month old (though she is perfectly capable of communicating on an older level).

The pros are that, because she does have more communication skills than the babies, the nurses talk to her more frequently and give her more individual attention than she would probably receive in the ward with children her own age. The nurses love the fact that she can sing along with them, and they all get a kick out of her dance moves. As a result, she interacts with adults really well and makes great eye contact. She is particularly attached to one nurse who even our translator commented was one of the best orphanage caregivers she’s ever seen. That is huge!

Children raised in orphanages are often neglected not necessarily from a lack of concern but more often due to a lack of resources and a lack of education on developmental needs. These things were obviously lacking in our daughter’s orphanage, but the staff was doing the best they knew how. The meals at this orphanage are varied in texture and content, the children are fed slowly with bottles or spoons (depending on the age of the child), and the Doctor and nurses pay decently close attention to the nutritional value of the food they provide. Our daughter is definitely in one of the better orphanages. I am extremely grateful that she has been given such advantages and that she ended up in an orphanage with a very special caregiver. The Lord has been mindful of our little girl.

And yet.

It’s hard to describe the haunting realities of what we saw. The orphanage is dark, sterile, and bare. Broken glass covers the playground. But that doesn’t matter because the children rarely go outside. Bedrooms about the size of a small walk-in closet line the halls, two cribs to a room. The babies sit or lie in these cribs until they are taken out, on schedule, to be fed or changed. There is silence in the ward, except for the rare cry of a baby who has not yet learned that his cries gain him nothing. Most of the babies do not respond if you try to engage them. They only stare at you with hollow, expressionless eyes.

One constant thought swirled in my head.

We must get her out of here!

But who will come for the others?

No one who sees a place like that can possibly believe that any amount of money used to get even one child out is a waste. Surely, they cannot.

And what I saw is not the half. I don’t know the half. I only know stories.

The stories of the family who traveled to meet their daughter, held her in their arms, and committed to bringing her home, but never got that chance. Just months before they were due to pick her up, their daughter starved to death under the care of “doctors” who were feeding her a very “special” diet. Their daughter was seven years old. She weighed nine pounds.

The stories of the family who adopted a little boy with almost exactly the same condition as our daughter. Except he was in a much worse orphanage. His body was covered in scars and sores. He was the same age as Little Miss, but he had no language and very little communication skills. He was caged in his crib for days. He was the subject of medical experimentation and abuse.

The stories of the little boy who kicked and screamed in fear when his new parents took him outside because he had never felt the sun on his face.

The stories of malnutrition, sexual abuse, and emotional trauma.

Stories that are more the reality than the rarity.

I’m not sure exactly what this post is about. Mostly, I think I’m still processing. It’s hard to put into words what it was like to visit Little Miss. Some of it doesn’t sound so bad as I go back and read what I’ve written. That’s only because I’m incapable of finding words to accurately describe the living conditions of these kids. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Sure, I’ve been to third world countries. I’ve seen devastating poverty. But in all those places I’ve been before, I also saw the love of family. Walking into an orphanage where these children have no one to count on but themselves… It was a different level of heartbreak.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge supporter of adoption, whether domestic or international. This is not a post about how everyone ought to adopt internationally. Children in foster care face some of the same harsh realities as do children in orphanages. This has nothing to do with “adopt this way, not that.” This is a plea from my heart to yours. Don’t tell me that international adoption is a waste of God’s money. When you say that, I hear a forgotten baby’s cries echoing down the hall. I see the prison cells that serve as bedrooms. I see the face of a mama whose daughter starved to death.

And I have to believe.

You just don’t know.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Dear Friend Who Can't Adopt,

There are so many of you. You’re the ones who were most ecstatic when we announced our adoption. You were some of the first to give when we mentioned our financial need. You are the ones who have offered the most consistent support throughout our adoption journey.

You’ve shared your stories with me. I know how your heart aches to be able to provide a home for a child in need. I know how it stings when you hear people say that there would be no more orphans in the world if only every Christian would adopt. I know that the pang in your heart is not the result of a “someday” wish, but the shattered pieces of a lost dream. I know you feel the judgment of sideways glances from adoptive parents who wonder, Why aren’t you doing your part? You wish you could tell them how hard you’ve tried. But, instead of constantly trying to defend yourself, you humbly carry on the fight, knowing that what you’re doing has eternal value.

It’s not that you don’t want to open yourself up to the complications and heartache that adoption brings. It’s not that you simply think that, “Someday it would be nice, but I’m too busy right now.” It’s not because you don’t feel the burden of every child in need of a loving family. You aren’t adopting because… You can’t. You wish you could. You’ve tried. You’ve pounded on doors, you’ve fought the system, you’ve jumped through hoops; yet, for whatever reason, you were denied permission to adopt. 

Still, you don’t give up. There is a fire in your heart to do anything possible to care for orphans. You will not yield. God has given Christians a mission to care for the fatherless, and you continue to march to that order. You can’t adopt, so you are determined to help those who can.

Some of the biggest supporters in our adoption are those who have previously tried to adopt but were not allowed to do so. You know how important this is, and you know the stakes. Adoption was not an idle dream to you. You invested time, money, and your whole heart into trying to bring a child home. Some of you were told that you already had too many children. Others of you were told that your methods of godly discipline were unacceptable, or that you didn’t make enough money, or that your house wasn’t large enough. Some of you went through the unbearable experience of being matched with a child only to have the adoption fall through. 

Whatever your experience, you’ve been through enough to know that adoption is HARD. And you know that there usually isn’t a whole lot of tangible support, even from other adoptive parents. You know this because you’ve gotten the message from them, too. If you aren’t adopting a child *their* way, you’re not caring for the fatherless the “right” way. But you know that’s not what God says. You know that just because you are not able to adopt doesn’t mean that you can’t help give a child a home. So, you tirelessly offer your encouragement, your financial resources, your time, your earthly goods, your wisdom, your love, your everything to support families who are in the process of adoption. Your hope remains that, one day, God will make a way for you to parent a child who desperately needs to know the love of a Christian home. But, for now, you see those who are able to provide those children homes, and you give your all to help them.

You are an invaluable part of this journey.

You have meant so much to us over the last three years. In the days when it looked like our adoption would fall through due to lack of finances, you gave. When it looked like every door was being closed because our agency shut down, you helped us find a new direction. When we desperately tried to be matched with a child and were denied permission because of a certain agency’s unbiblical worldview, you were there to listen, to cry, and to empathize. When we were finally matched with our daughter, you were there to rejoice with us. You’ve shared our fundraisers, you’ve donated items, you’ve cooked us meals, you’ve helped us research, and, most importantly, you’ve diligently prayed for us. Without you, this would have been a very lonely road. You have been a shining example of God’s heart for the orphaned, and the impact of your love for others reaches far beyond anything you can see. We are forever in your debt.

Thank you, precious friend, for caring for the fatherless. Thank you for pouring out your hearts for us. Thank you for helping to provide a home for our daughter. Your sacrifices are not overlooked. May God richly bless you for fulfilling James 1:27.


Photo Credit: Painting by Tianay Lewis