Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Praying With the President

"Why not do it?" I thought as I scanned the website calendar. I was only three-and-one-half hours away. When would I ever get an opportunity to actually meet a president in my lifetime? It was a once-in-a-lifetime-experience I decided to grab. So, at 6:30 a.m., while the Georgia sky was still dark, I rolled out of my sister's garage and headed south to Plains, home of Jimmy Carter, 39th president of the United States of America. In the backseat, Maya, still in her jammies, drifted back to sleep.

By 10:00 a.m. we entered the parking lot of Maranatha Baptist Church between the two squad cars posted on either side of the driveway. I changed Maya out of her jammies, did her hair, double-checked that my camera was in my purse and we were ready. Off we headed past the three secret-service agents on the lawn to the front entrance and security. Maya hung back a little, while the secret-service agent inspected my purse (no pocket was left unopened) and scanned me with a hand-held metal detector. She quickly scooted past him (he deftly scanned her on the scoot) to join me on the front step and into the church we went.

Plains is a dot-on-the-map town with a population that barely reaches the 700 mark. Boasting only a handful of shops and eateries, it is the place Jimmy Carter proudly calls home. It is also where he worships ... and invites others to do the same.

If you want to meet Jimmy Carter, you must first come to church. You must meet his God, before you meet the man. Although Jimmy Carter has carried many prestigious titles in his lifetime, (governor, president, humanitarian, Nobel prize winner, etc.) his most important title is simply "child of God." Flanked by secret service agents, he and his wife knelt humbly in prayer, lifted their voices in song, and participated in a church service with all the other ordinary folks in the congregation, including me. I was thrilled to see such a public figure live a life that is so REAL. Like Joseph, Daniel, and Esther of the Bible, he has reached the most public of offices, yet remained true to God.

Of course, once the church service was over, the line quickly formed for taking a picture with the president and his wife. Maya, who is generally fearful of strangers, walked right up to them as if they were her grandparents. Rosalynn smiled warmly, pulled Maya close, and said, "You'll have to come up and see us some time." President Carter wanted to know her name. We smiled for the camera and it was over.

Maya and I walked back to the car. Maya was ready for lunch, but I was busy sorting through the cloud of thoughts swirling through my head. Today, I had experienced a once-in-a-lifetime event. I had finally met someone who had achieved the highest honors this world could offer, but who had never lost focus on his Maker and King. I was truly honored. And someday, when Maya is older, I will show her the pictures and teach her the lessons I learned from praying with the president, President Jimmy Carter.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shared Hope International: "One Life at a Time"

I recently became aware of the work of "Shared Hope International" and felt I must share what they are doing. This video gives a brief summary.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Borrowed Blog

The following is from a blog I read recently. It is, I believe, an excellent answer for why we choose to adopt, especially the last paragraph. It is written by a young, single woman who has adopted 14 daughters from Uganda ... so far. She is also a teacher there. I hope you are as blessed by this as I was. For more information on her work in Uganda visit amazima.org or click the "Amazima" link on the left of this blog.

Teenagers and a Lesson from Jacob

I come to you humbly asking for prayer. Especially for my three oldest daughters, and for wisdom for me! All mommas know it: teenagers are hard. Three teenage girls are harder. Three teenage girls from different tribes and cultures and pasts trying to live together in one bedroom are harder still.

In an effort to be real, I want to tell you. Adoption is wonderful and beautiful and the greatest blessing I have ever experienced. Adoption is also HARD and painful. Adoption of older children is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is the GOSPEL in my living room. And some times, it just stinks.

As a parent, it stinks to not know when your daughter took her first steps or what her first word was or what she looked like in Kindergarten. It stinks not to know where she slept and whose shoulder she cried on and what the scar on her eyebrow is from. It stinks to know that for ten years of her precious life you were NOT the shoulder she cried on or the Mommy she hugged.

As a child, it stinks to remember your biological parents’ death, no matter how much you love your new Mom. It stinks to have your mom be a different color than you because, inevitably, people are going to ask why. It stinks that your Mom wasn’t there for all the times you had no dinner and all the times you were sick and all the times you needed help with your homework. It stinks when you have to make up your birthday. It skinks when you can’t understand the concept of being a family forever because your first family wasn’t forever.

And every single day, it is worth it. Because ADOPTION IS GOD’S HEART. He sets the lonely in families. Adoption is the reason that I can come before God’s throne and beg Him for mercy, because He predestined me to be adopted as His child through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

My family, adopting these children, it is not optional. It is not my good deed for the day, it is not what I am doing to “help these poor kids out.” I adopt because God commands me to care for the orphans and the widows in their distress. I adopt because to whom much has been given, much will be demanded. I adopt because whoever finds his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for HIS sake will find it.

Some days, my friends, it is not easy. Today, it is not easy. The HURT in my daughters’ hearts is big and real and as their mother, I want to fix it and know that I CAN’T. So I lay it at the feet of my Father and rejoice to know that if we are children, then we are heirs - of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in His sufferings - in order that we may also share in His glory. And I call out to the Holy Spirit knowing that He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for us.

A sweet friend pointed me yesterday to Genesis Chapter 33. Esau and Jacob are meeting for the first time in a long time. As Jacob approaches Esau, with his many children following close behind, Esau asks,“And who are these with you?”

Jacob’s reply:“These are the children that the Lord saw fit to bless me with.”

We get all the questions. “Why do you do it?” “Why so many?” “How in the world…” “Why these specific girls?” “Why the number 14?” “Do you think its ok to adopt as a single Mother? Don’t they need a father too?” “Do you think they will have issues since you are not the same race?” We also get the compliments. “I don’t know how you do it!” “Good job!” “You must be so responsible!” “Your girls must be so well behaved.” We get crazy stares and huge smiles and every look in between.

Adoption is beautiful. Adoption is hard. Adoption is the Gospel of Christ and the promise of God’s love and redemption lived out in our lives. So I ask for your prayers. Prayers for understanding and peace and trust and the power of God that is more than all I can ask or imagine. And to the questions and the comments and the compliments, this is my reply: “These are the children that the Lord saw fit to bless me with.”