First things first, as I know you are all waiting with bated breath. We did not meet the deadline to respond to immigration today, so we’ve had to withdraw our applications for immigration approval. It was pretty stressful up until the end, but God provided such clarity and peace last week as it was becoming apparent that we wouldn’t make it. It’s not the end of the story, just part of a chapter. We will be able to reapply once we can get additional documents. Just another bump in this windy road.
We are feeling so blessed these days even in the midst of this disappointing season of life. It’s really only disappointing because we are fooled into thinking this world is our home. That this is all there is. Because this isn’t our home, we have nothing to fear and nothing to lose. Jesus has overcome the world, and we live in him.
I don’t think I’ve ever quite realized how powerful this truth is. We can live recklessly. Yesterday, our pastor preached a sermon on true greatness. We can become great for the kingdom by serving. He challenged us to turn our unholy ambition into holy ambition by striving for what God desires.
While there are many unholy ambitions that continue to rear their ugly heads, I do feel there is a holy ambition in pursuing this adoption. I do believe that God loves these children, and that they are worthy of fighting for. Worthy of putting our lives on hold (in a worldly sense), worthy of spending a reckless amount of money, worthy of the stress and exhaustion. The weird thing is that it’s worth it even if they never come home. Sometimes God leads you to build an ark and then tells you later that the ark was just a sign of something bigger.
It’s an eternal purpose that we fight for. It’s not about us or about the kids. It’s about obedience to Jesus. It’s about his glory. It’s about the fact that this world may end tomorrow, and I want to be faithful with my last hours on earth.
This story is bigger than us and these kids. It’s bigger than adoption or social justice. It’s a story of redemption. God’s redemption of the world.
I’ll spare you the dramatics, but as you probably guessed, I was [am] quite the drama queen.
After graduating from a class of 16 people who spent 8 years together, I went on to the local Catholic high school about 20 miles from where I grew up. It was a little shocking to be in such a large group, able to define myself in a new way outside of my previous small-town experience. It didn’t take long for me to find my place in the group of overachieving, rather dorky people.
The single scariest moment of high school is when you realize that not three weeks after you arrive, people start talking about the Homecoming Dance. [ Side note: I was not usually allowed to go to dances in junior high. The one dance that I was permitted to attend, my parents forbid me to slow dance, and I have always been a rule follower. When I came home and told them that my friend asked me to dance but that I dutifully said no, they replied, “oh you could have danced with HIM!” Awesome. Thanks. ] At that time, my high school did not allow you attend dances without a date. You couldn’t just attend with friends. You had to have a date, and the date had to be of the opposite gender. A seemingly impossible task, if you ask me. I’ll spare you the details, but to my own shock, I did get asked to the dance. By a boy. Who was not blind or otherwise impaired. It was the first of many awkward dances in my high school career, but I had a date, and therefore, I would not have to beg my parents to move.
My high school was all about sports. Midwestern Catholics take their sports seriously, especially football. Our school existed to support the football program. If you didn’t/couldn’t play football, any other normal sport would do. After one and a half seasons of unsuccessful attempts at being athletic, I resigned from sports and got into drama. I had always loved to sing and perform and planned to become a famous movie star when I grew up. I had a lot of fun acting and singing in our rather small and pathetic performances. My sophomore year, I was Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz. We performed on a wooden make-shift stage in the small gym (because the actual stage was used for wrestling practice, obviously). During the Jitterbug, the stage caved in; however, my ability to continue singing and dancing while climbing out of the hole was most definitely Oscar-worthy.
The one thing I could never accomplish in high school was being cool. (what? singing, good grades and clothes from JC Penny don’t make you cool?) I so wanted to be cool. I would see the girls in A&F sweaters on the pom squad and just couldn’t figure out why they didn’t want to be my friends. (could have been how quickly I would raise my hand in class volunteering to do extra credit problems.) I mostly just wanted to have their cute boyfriends as I was quite boy crazy in high school as well. Alas, I never found the secret to being cool. I am still not cool. My wardrobe is still lacking, and I never have figured out how to do my hair. I still say obnoxiously know-it-all things. BUT, I did end up with a very cute boyfriend who only gets better looking with age. Those stories will have to wait until the next installment….
This post is much more eloquent that mine and addresses another bad cliche.
Yes, it’s true. God loves you as you are. That’s the beauty of unconditional love. We don’t deserve it, but it’s true.
I don’t like it. You know what I’m talking about. Here are my [least] favorites. If you say this to me, and I’m in a bad mood, prepare for a sermon (sorry, but I’m sassy these days.)
1. It’s all going to work out and be ok.
2. God will provide [the job, the money, the spouse, etc.].
3. God helps those who help themselves.
4. God never gives you more than you can handle.
Why do I hate these clichés, you ask?
A. They aren’t in the Bible.
Not even sort of. Show me where it says that “It’s all going to work out.” Read Revelations. Read about Jesus for goodness sake. All but one of the apostles were martyred. It doesn’t work out – not in the way that you mean when you say that. If you say that and mean, the world will be destroyed. God will exact justice on the unrighteous, and Jesus will come back and kick a**. Then, I agree with you. It will work out.
Otherwise, if you mean what I think you mean – that things will turn up, you are incorrect. Tell that to the person dying of cancer, to the mother whose baby is starving to death, to the man dying of AIDS.
B. They are not applicable outside of rich (white) America.
The only reason we can say with a straight face that “God will provide” (and mean that he will provide the spouse, the baby, the job, the money) is because that in rich, affluent America, there’s almost always a way to get those things yourselves. I’m not saying that God’s not a part of that, but we really are just digging deep and finding a way to get what we want. We aren’t sitting back and letting God “provide” because God doesn’t promise that he will provide – not those worldly things. He will provide strength, mercy, love and grace, but you may not get what you want in the end. There are many of God’s children around the world starving to death.
God does give us more than we can handle. In fact, I think he only gives us more than we can handle. God is not about us succeeding and handling things. God is about his own glory. Remember Job? You can’t say to a woman locked in a cage in India being raped day after day until she dies at the age of 25 that God won’t give her more than she can handle. Who can handle that? This saying just isn’t applicable to her life, so why should it be applicable to ours.
C. They fall short. Way short.
God does make bold promises. He says that he will never leave or forsake us. That he loves us so much that he murdered his only son to pay for our sins. He promises that he will return. He promises that justice will be done. He says that his grace is sufficient.
When we use these clichés, we turn God into a Hallmark card. When we indicate that Christianity is about working hard and living a comfortable life with a little God thrown in, we are lying and we are stealing God’s glory. We are diluting the truths of his promises in favor of something that is easier to say and swallow.
I think we do this because God makes a lot of scary promises too, and we don’t want to face those. He says that we will be persecuted. He says that some will call him Lord, and he will say he never knew them. He promises that the wicked will suffer eternal torment. Jesus says that He is the only Way, Truth and Life. He says that to save your life, you have to lose it. He promises that we will suffer as Jesus suffered. He says that the way is narrow and few will find it.
I want more. I don’t want clichés and feel good sayings. I want the truth. Because things are too hard right now, and I need a God who can stand up to these trials.
This adoption is getting messy ya’ll. We need serious prayer. We are completely stuck at the immigration phase with no end in sight. USCIS gave us a deadline of July 23 that we are unlikely to meet, which means we would have to reapply later once we get the needed documents and start over again. Starting over means more delays. We are contemplating a riskier strategy but are seeking God’s will in what He wants us to do. We want these kids home, and we want them home yesterday. But, most importantly, we want to love the Lord, seek first his kingdom and make decisions that bring him glory.
Thanks for following our story.
Our as Chris Rock says, Happy White People’s Independence Day. It’s crass, but I like it. I’ll save my ramblings about patriotism for another day.
Instead, I will tell you about how we spent our day yesterday. After blueberry pancakes, smoothies and The Iron Lady (great movie!), we took to reading aloud from Jen Hatmaker’s books, Seven and Interrupted (because that’s how I roll). We are in month 6 of the fast, and this month, we are limited our spending to seven places. Thus far we have only chosen three – gas, online bills and a specific grocery store. We’ve been reading all these books about how to actually live out this gospel we supposedly believe, how to be counter-cultural and really be salt and light.
So, instead of watching another movie and eating a whole pan of brownies, we decided to actually leave our apartment and engage with our neighborhood. First stop, the local rehabilitation facility for patients with physical limitations. We had been there once before and really enjoyed our visit. Yesterday, a group of people were out on the patio having a BBQ and playing Dominos. We pulled up some chairs and not long afterwards, a staff member rolled out a cooler filled with water balloons for a water balloon toss.
It didn’t take long for an all-out war to begin. We sat back and enjoyed watching for a little bit until one young woman, who happens to be blind, started chucking water balloons in our direction (with surprisingly good results). Immediately the moral dilemma begins – is it ever appropriate to throw a water balloon back at a blind woman? Luckily, we didn’t have to make that choice because her compatriot “Major” (not blind) proceeded to hit me in the stomach and the leg, so all bets were off. We ended up drenched and laughing hysterically.
It’s not every day you get to have a water balloon fight with people in wheelchairs.
We ended the day with apple pie and neighborhood fireworks with our friends. It’s hard for me to believe there’s an economic crisis going on when every average Joe seems to have at least a hundred dollars to blow on fireworks, but I guess that’s what Independence Day is all about.
So, I’ve been wracking my brain for a light-hearted post. A funny story, perhaps. A satiric take on Obamacare. Nothing. It’s only rain clouds and fiery darts in this brain for now. To spare you those options, I’m taking this back in time for a series I am creatively calling “About Me.”
I was born during the Reagan administration in a small farm town in Illinois. It was a cold day (they tell me). I was an unintended consequence of a teenage romance. (Spoiler alert – my parents are still together. Keeping it real and loving each other in that gross parent way.) I don’t have any memory of it, but apparently I entered the world in a rather uneventful, typical way that humans do. My parents say it was the happiest day of their lives, way better than when my sisters were born, I’m sure.
I spent my first months of life under the doting love of my mom, aunt and grandma. My parents were married a few months after I was born in a rather depressing and stressful wedding attended by a lot of angry-looking Catholics (so, your typical wedding). My maternal grandmother was upset because my dad and his groomsmen wore white tennis shoes with their tuxes, ruining the obvious high-class event of a marriage between teenagers with a baby in tow. My paternal grandmother has never missed an opportunity to create some drama, and this event was no different. The good news is that life could only go up from there, and it did!
We lived in a small little trailer parked in the backyard of my paternal grandparents’ home. My parents lament that they could never get away from my crying because they could see me from every point of the house. Later, we moved into a much classier trailer on a piece of land down the street from my maternal grandparents where I had my earliest memories. I have a faint memory of when my sister was born when I was a little over 3 years old. A short time after that, I remember splitting my lip open while balancing between the counter and a chair. My mom was on her way out the door to spend an evening with her girlfriends, but a trip to urgent chair ruined that plan. (Mwahaha!) My dad kept me calm and made me laugh while I received my stitches.
My kindergarten teacher was pure evil. I’m still convinced she’s a witch. Yes, Mrs. Schmidt. I’m talking to you. That’s all I’ll say about that.
My parents then built the house where I spent most of my youth. I attended the local Catholic grade school, and my youngest sister was born when I was about 8 years old. I spent most of grade school worrying about boys and friends. A boy in my class (who remains a friend today) nicknamed me “Barfbag [last name]” because he said he needed a barfbag whenever he saw me. This was one of the only nicknames I ever had, until his mom made him stop calling me that (thanks Debbie!). It’s a rather funny story around our house now, but luckily, my husband hasn’t started calling me that yet.
Where I grew up, you were either from the country or the town. It was obvious that all the beautiful, popular, cool kids lived in town. I always imagined them having elaborate parties and shopping and riding bikes. I always wanted to live in town. Instead, we lived in the country, where we built forts and played outside and didn’t have to wear shoes.
Stay tuned for next time, when you can journey with me to my awkward teenage years. Maybe I can even get some good photos loaded up!