Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Urgency of Now

“We are not faced with the fact, my friends, that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. Procrastination is still the thief of time. Life often leaves us standing bare, naked, and dejected with a lost opportunity. The tide in the affairs of men does not remain at flood-it ebbs. We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is adamant to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘too late.’”

-Martin Luther King, Jr.

Time is a funny thing.  I can feel like it's crawling by like it did while we were in the adoption process or during my engagement. Other days it races by and there aren't enough minutes in the day.  When I think about my life I can often feel like I have forever ahead of me while other days I feel confronted with the reality that life is oh, so short....that the clock is ticking faster and faster. 

I think many of us spend much of our time planning for and looking to the future...a job change, a vacation, a change of lifestyle, retirement etc.  We tell ourselves that someday our lives will be different.  Someday we'll do that thing that seems so out of reach right now.  Someday, we'll be in a better place to spend our time and money in more meaningful ways.  You know, once we're out of debt and the kids are out of school and we're out from under work and extracurricular obligations and...and...and. 

Too many people's "somedays" never come.  There really IS such a thing as being too late.  As King says "Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words, ‘too late.’”  We can get to the end of our lives and regret all the ways we meant to help.  Time slipped the busyness of daily life we just...well, we were too busy.  We were too self consumed to really bother with others who didn't fit our schedules, our comfort zones, our molds.  Really, we were going to do something...

The trafficked 9 year old child who was raped for the 20th time today screams that NOW is what counts.  The family running for their lives from ethnic cleansing in their country knows tomorrow could be too late.  The mother who has AIDS and is nursing her little baby with diseased milk rather than allowing it to starve knows the urgency of today. The orphan who will age out of the orphanage in a week with no hope of ever having a family knows that time is short. The HIV+ patients who have free medication but can't afford the basic food that's required to be eaten with their medication know the urgency of today.  The teenager in Russia with her head being held to a log with an axe forcing her to service man after man knows the urgency of now.

We can tend to think of getting to the grocery store, making it to practice on time, climbing the corporate ladder or paying our bills on time as urgent.  Here is what I honestly believe - we wouldn't know urgent if it slapped us in the face.  It would do us worlds of good to walk a mile in someone else's shoes and have our perception of urgent re-shaped.    

I do not want to get to the end of my life (which could be an hour from now for all I know) having ignored the people who have lived every moment in a state of emergency.  I do not want to stand before my God and look Him in the eye and tell Him that I really meant to do something... that my heart went out to those people.  For whoever it is that I am meant to help during my time on this earth, I do not want to be too late.  

There IS an urgency of now.  Now is ALL any of us have.  We are not guaranteed our next breath.  Now is a gift that we have been given that was never meant to be squandered.  What are we doing with it?    

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Here Am I

I got to spend a few days last week at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit in Louisville.  Almost 2,000 people in one place with hearts to live out the calling of James 1:27 to care for the orphan in their distress.  I had the privilege of listening to story after story of how people's lives had been wrecked, changed and influenced by choosing to take a step of faith. 

It's funny how I didn't hear many stories of how people had been caring for orphans all their lives, but rather they had been going through their days pursuing what they thought was a full life and God got ahold of them and radically redirected their paths.  That sounds a little familiar to me. :)

I heard stories of people adopting HIV+ children from Ethiopia in the midst of great criticism.  Carolyn Twietmeyer shared how she went to Ethiopia because the daughter she was in process of adopting was very ill and literally on the brink of death.  This little girl desperately needed a blood transfusion but in Ethiopia they don't give out "good blood" to people with HIV because they don't want to waste it on people who are dying.  Turns out this adoptive mom was a match for her little girl.  While she was there nursing her little girl back to health, she found out that her soon to be daughter had two other siblings living on their own in Ethiopia.  Long story short, all three siblings are now adopted and living together here in the States. Check out what this amazing family is doing to fight the stigma of HIV+ children HERE

I heard stories of churches in cities across America banding together to take in every single child in their local foster care system.  Their goal is that when a child enters the foster care system that the first call that is placed is to a local church with an active group of foster families who are ready to take in children.  It's so encouraging to see the Church rising up to do what we have been called to do.  Is it scary?  Yes.  Does it require sacrifice? Absolutely.  But, what is life really if not the laying down of our own lives for others?

I heard a pro football player share about how God moved in his heart and he and his wife have now adopted around 8-10 kids...I think they have 4 biological as well.  He is using his influence with his teammates to create adoption funds for families who cannot afford to adopt. 

There was so much love represented in that room of people.  So much sacrifice.  So much joy.  So much passion.  This is the beauty of what happens when God transforms our hearts to beat as His does.  The cost doesn't seem steep anymore...sacrifice becomes the very thing we chase after because it draws us close to the heart of God.  As we watch these precious little lives being transformed before our eyes, we are reminded that God has done that very thing for us. 

Psalm 40:1-3 says: "I waited patiently for the LORD; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God."

There are around 150 million or so orphans in the world today stuck in the slimy pit of abandonment, abuse, disease, loneliness and worthlessness. Their hearts are broken.  Many feel hopeless. And God's answer for them is you.  It's me.  It's people willing to break out of their comfort, their financial security, their routine, their safety, and engage with the children who are crying out to be seen. 

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” - Isaiah 6:8

I am so often guilty of not uttering those words - "Send Me!".  I sit back because it seems others are doing the work and meeting the needs.  But God knows that us saying "Send Me" is just as much about what He wants and needs to do in our own lives as it is about how He wants to use us in the lives of His little ones who are broken and hurting.  "Send Me" should be the cry of my heart because it will lead me into deeper knowledge of who God is and fullness of life.

I pray for a release from selfishness, fear and comfort for us.  I pray that we will start asking God what He wants us to do for His children who have been discarded like trash, who are suffering because of circumstances out of their control.  As we say "Here am I.  Send me!" may our confidence rest in the God who heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


So thankful today that God allows me to be mama to my three sweeties...

They are precious gifts to me that I do not deserve.  It is a privilege to nurture and help shape their little lives. 

And I'm so thankful for my own sweet mom who has always modeled what selflessness and love look like...

I also can't think about Mother's Day without thinking of Tariku's birth mom, Bogalech.  She loved her son so much.  In a culture where women who gave birth out of wedlock were shunned, she acted bravely.  She didn't leave her son in the woods or abandon him on the side of the road like many in her situation have done.  She nursed Tariku for three months and then took him to his birth father so that he could have a better chance at survival.  She knew she could not care and provide for him.  I have no idea where she is today.  I have never met her and simply know a skeleton of her story.  I can only imagine what she must feel as a mother who is separated from her child.  Her sacrifice has been our gain and there are days I don't know how to feel about that.  I have so much sorrow for the impossible choices she had to make...and so much admiration for the bravery it took to make them. 

I just have no idea what she must have felt as she handed Tariku over to his birth father... what she must feel wherever she is today.  I just know that she has given us the most precious little boy on the face of the planet.  And I can't thank her enough for that. 

Bogalech, Happy Mother's Day.  You have a beautiful boy with a generous, kind spirit and the brave heart of a warrior.  I know he must have gotten some of those traits from you.  There are no words to properly thank you for what you have given our family.  I know the cost must have been so great to you and I pray that your heart heals as time passes.  Your son is happy, healthy and beautiful.  I hope somehow you can sense that.  I love you and I thank you from the depths of my being. 

Happy Mother's Day to ALL the moms in the world...may you be blessed today!