Thursday, May 13, 2010

Live To Be Forgotten

Elijah's birthday came and went this year as quietly as he arrived in the labor and delivery room 3 years ago. A few sweet people remembered his birthday, and that warmed my heart. But many didn't remember. At the close of his birthday, I had a moment of sadness. When I was alone that night, I was praying out loud and asking God, "Does nobody remember him? Do they not remember that he is real? Have they all forgotten him??" But just as quickly as that thought came into my mind, another thought came right in to take its place...

God brought to mind a video I had just seen a few days earlier. Patrick Fung is the President of OMF (Overseas Missionary Fellowship, which works to reach Eastern Asia), and he wrote a book called Live to Be Forgotten. Click this link to see a short 12-minute interview with Patrick Fung. It is so worth the time.

Patrick Fung talks about living to be our lives in such a way that Jesus is seen and we are forgotten. What a thought! Don't we deep down inside want to at least be remembered? We are willing to give up our lives, but don't we hope that we will at least be known for giving up our lives? Countless missionaries have lived their entire lives in order to reach the unreached...they've given up comfort and safety and have lived simple lives among the people they wanted to share Jesus with. Most of these people we have never heard of. They lived in such a way that we cannot recall them but can only see what Jesus did through them. They lived to be forgotten.

And as that thought entered my mind, I was so pleased with my little Elijah. He is not remembered by many. In fact, his Daddy and Mama (and a handful of nurses) are the only ones on earth who laid eyes on him. And yet countless people have been touched by his life story. Orphans have been reached because of his life. Our family's entire direction and purpose were altered by this under-one-pound baby boy. Elijah's life was not his own but instead reflected God's love and life amazingly. Elijah lived to be forgotten. Instead of being sad that he isn't as remembered as he "should" be, I find myself wanting to be more like him.

I want to live to be forgotten.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Time of Reflection

I find myself in a very reflective state of mind this morning. On this date three years ago, I was in a hospital room in labor with our 4th child, Elijah. He arrived into this world very quietly. Stillborn. The following photo was taken just before we left his funeral. This was the last time our human bodies were near each other. There simply are no words to describe this pain.

But there IS healing! And placing that sort of pain into the Hands of God has this enormous ripple effect that just keeps reaching into the next stage of our lives...and then the next... I cannot even begin to explain all the blessings we have experienced as we've just TRUSTED Him.

It's the pain in our lives that propels us to really seek, isn't it? Attending the funeral of a child is an event I wouldn't wish on anyone. But, while it's unimaginable and impossible in human terms, it is the very place where I HAD to rely on God fully (what else could I do?). Though it was indescribably painful, it was also the place where I felt God's soothing Hand of healing the most prominent in my life. Many many mornings found me out on the front porch crying in the early hours of the day, but also in that time, I found God to faithful to be "close to the brokenhearted," making His voice crisp and clear in my spirit. I took great joy in Him during that time. There was a dimension of my life that opened up during that hard experience, and it has propelled me forward with faith and purpose. And so it is that JOY and SUFFERING go hand-in-hand.

Sometimes things are just down-right HARD in life. Loved ones pass away, things change, hard decisions have to be made, feet have to be redirected (when they'd much rather stick in a comfortable rut!). We tend to hate the hard things, the disappointments, the pain, the s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g, the painful changes, the losses. But aren't those the very things that propel us towards relying more on our Heavenly Father? The hard things, when placed in HIS HANDS are miraculously altered. The disappointments give way to new hope...the pain becomes a springboard for reaching others...the stretching brings on strength and flexibility we've never before had...the changes break us out of stale molds and make us dig deeper and seek Him more earnestly...the losses propel us to again examine "where our treasure is." The hard things bring amazing focus that we tend to lack in the easier times.

So, today as I reflect on Elijah's birthday, I'm feeling amazing peace and joy. His first and last moments of earthly life were inside my womb. I cannot think of a more precious place, and I'm humbled to have been that for him. And I'm absolutely sure that he is now enjoying life fully in paradise. And us...well, we followed through that valley and into His calling on our lives. And we feel that calling constantly realigned and refocused. And He is still teaching us how to follow Him, reminding us always how to distinguish His still quiet voice, and encouraging us to be thankful for the hard times. Remember, joy and suffering very often go hand-in-hand.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Honoring and Serving Birth Mothers

Mother's Day will soon be upon us, and I wanted to take a moment to honor all the birth mothers who have selflessly chosen to place their babies for adoption. We have personally been touched by this gift, as our youngest child joined our family through the miracle of adoption. This is the first Mother's Day that we've had this added facet to consider. We find ourselves taking some time to reflect on our daughter's birth mother and her beautiful gift that she chose to give to her baby...the gift of a forever family. How could we possibly thank her for that gift, especially with the reality that we don't know her birth mother?

I'm brainstorming ways that we can honor her birth mother this Mother's Day, and I'll get back with you on what we decide to do. But, in honor of all birth mothers, we have hooked up with a Georgia-based adoption agency and have volunteered to help serve them. One thing that they needed was a service for birth mothers. They provide counseling and support as birth mothers place their babies for adoption. When they leave the hospital, the birth mothers are often leaving empty-handed. This can be very very hard. So, the adoption agency gives each birth mother a gift basket when they leave the hospital. It has special gifts such as a journal, a frame for the baby's hospital picture, etc. The adoption agency needed people to put these gift baskets together, and we thought it would be a creative and fun way to serve birth mothers.

Last week we invited some sweet young ladies and their mamas to our home to assemble matching bracelets for birth mothers and babies. We heated some tea, enjoyed some scones and had a precious time of fellowship together as we beaded bracelets.

Here are the girls showing off the bracelets that they made. :)

Here are the bracelets that we've made so far. They are tied together with a ribbon, and birth mother will untie them and give one bracelet to baby and keep one for herself. The bracelets are one of the many little gifts that will be included in the gift baskets.

Thank you to all the sweet people from different churches across our town who have donated items to go into the gift baskets.

If you live in another area of the country, you can contact an adoption agency or hospital in your area and ask them if you can volunteer to do something similar for the birth mothers in your area. You can use your gifts and talents to serve birth mothers.

When we have a full gift basket assembled, I will post that and share the details of all the items inside it.

On Mother's Day, please take a moment to remember birth mothers and to pray for healing to come to their hearts.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


If you've visited our website, you have probably heard of Watoto. It is an amazing children's village in Uganda, Africa. They serve orphans in Uganda by rescuing them, raising them in Christian homes and eventually rebuilding their country with this new generation of Christian leaders. The children are not adopted by families in other countries but rather are raised up to be a wonderful Christ-centered generation in their own country. I encourage you to go to the Watoto web site and read about it for yourself. You will be blessed. And if you really want to help orphans but cannot adopt, this provides a wonderful opportunity for you to place a child into a Christian home within the Watoto village. You can sponsor one or more of these precious children.

And they ARE precious! We had the chance to meet some of the children last Sunday morning when they traveled to Free Chapel in Gainesville, GA. To hear them sing about how they are not forgotten because God knows their names...well, it brought me to tears! Beautiful ministry!

Here are some pictures we took Sunday...

This was our family with some of the Watoto children. They are beautiful!

And the last 2 pictures are of some of our close friends and the Watoto children.
This MADE MY WEEK!!! Go visit Watoto's site. :)