Thursday, July 21, 2011

He Never Wanted Me to Adopt

I was fresh out of college, still single, and had just opened Small Cloud Christian School when I announced my plans to adopt. Dad was none to thrilled with my decision. He wanted me to get a bit more financially stable, marry, and settle down before starting a family. I was insistent. So was Dad. We went round and round. Finally, in frustration, I told Dad that he didn't have to accept my children, but would he please just let them call him, "Grandpa." He nodded. "I just don't want to see you get hurt." Suddenly, I realized the truth. He wasn't trying to crush my dreams. He was trying to protect me, his daughter.

My children came and not only did Dad allow them to call him Grandpa, he was Grandpa to all of them. He made no distinction between his biological grandchildren and his adopted ones. As each child entered the family, either by birth or adoption, he loved them all the same.

Now, day by day, cancer is stealing this precious man away from us. Today, for the first time, I shared with the kids how serious Grandpa's condition is. We knelt in prayer and the tears flowed for Grandpa. Alyssa crawled into my lap and sobbed. Maya shook her head sadly, and said, "Today's just not Grandpa's day." Quinn is keeping up by email, texts, and phone calls. He hopes to fly in this weekend. There's a heaviness in all our hearts.

Dad never wanted me to adopt, but he understood the calling God put on my heart. He laid aside his own fears for me and embraced my rather unorthodox family. Oh, how I love that man!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grocery List Prayers - Midweek Meditation

Prayer is vital. It is the breath of the soul, the secret of spiritual power, the life-giving communion between an almighty God and mortal man. But for what do we spend the bulk of our time praying?

Often I have found my prayers sound a bit more like a grocery list than a conversation between a loving Father and His daughter. I'm sad to say, but they have sounded something like the following...

Dear Father,

Please grant me ...

1 ideal parking spot

6 good deals on plane tickets

2 hours of peace this afternoon

1 missing set of keys to be found

1 husband to pick me up on time

3 lone half-pairs of shoes to find their mates

enough money to complete our adoption

and so on...

And there's nothing wrong with praying for any of those things. But sometimes when we pray, we run through our list of wants/needs and stop there. We don't go deeper.

In Matthew 6, in the midst of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches His followers how to pray. He mentions physical needs oh so briefly. In fact all our bodily needs are summed up in one little sentence. "Give us this day our daily bread." Matthew 6:11. He requests enough provision for one day only. This day. Today. In fact, later on in the sermon (chapter) He encourages us to not make our physical needs our main focus at all. "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?" Matthew 6:25. "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6:33.

In the early part of the 1900s an American missionary named Gladys Aylward was scouting out new territory to evangelize in China. A Chinese doctor, a recent convert, accompanied her as her guide. As they traveled from village to village, Gladys taught the doctor more about Jesus. His devotion to Jesus grew. Together, Gladys and the doctor, shared the love of Jesus with those they met in the villages.

One day their travels took them into a wilderness area. Gladys and the doctor walked the whole
day without seeing anyone. Where were they? Towards evening Gladys feared they were lost. She began to worry. What would they eat? Where would they sleep? Finally, overwhelmed, she announced that they should drop to their knees and pray right that moment. Gladys began. "Dear God, have mercy on us. You can see what a plight we are in. Give us food and shelter for the night." She continued praying, filling her entire prayer with a list of their immediate needs. When she had finished, the doctor began. Very calmly he prayed, "O God, send us the one You want us to tell about Jesus. We have witnessed to no one today, but You have sent us here for some special purpose. Show us where to find the man You intend to bless." Gladys Aylward, missionary to China, was humbled and ashamed. She later wrote, "While I had been so concerned with my own comfort, this man was concerned only with His Father's business."

It wasn't long before a lone man was spotted on a nearby hillside. The doctor, sure that the answer to his prayer had just arrived, dashed off to share the good news of the gospel. That lone man turned out to be a Tibetan lama priest who invited the two of them to come to his lamasery and share the message of Jesus Christ with over 500 other lamas. Gladys and the doctor spent an entire week with them teaching them about God. Incidentally, their physical needs were provided for during that time as well.

Since reading this story, my prayer life has changed drastically. The bulk of my daily prayers are now, "Lord, give me someone to share Your love with." It's been amazing to see how God has answered.

Today, I challenge you to ask God to give you someone with whom to share the gospel. You won't ever be the same again.

By the way ...

If you're interested in learning more about the amazing life of Gladys Aylward, check out these resources. The middle one is a DVD for kids. My girls love it!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

But He Still Wants to Live

I went with my dad to the oncologist today. Oncology is such an ugly word. I've never liked it. It gave me the shivers just to walk into the waiting room, almost like I was walking into a morgue. Maybe because that's how I feel.

My dad's cancer situation has gone from bad to worst. At 82 many people would say he's had a good life and no one lives forever, but many people don't know my dad.

Only six years ago my dad quit jogging when he moved to a location where it wasn't so easy to do. But up until last year, he continued to walk daily, do 50 sit-ups, push-ups, painting, car tune-ups, etc. He only wears glasses when he reads, has only one or two fillings, and his mind is as sharp as a tack.

But his body is failing him.

His mind is active and inquisitive. He loves to learn and interact with people and challenge himself. He notices everything!

But his body is giving out.

Today, when the oncologist gave his recommendations, I saw that fire in my dad's eyes once again and I thought, "But, he still wants to live!"

And then I carried Dad's belongings, just as he used to carry mine, and watched as he shuffled out the office door.

Fresh Air Fund - What Two Weeks Can Do

I received a request to share the following information. If you live in a country or suburban area of the northeastern United States, you have the privilege of being a Fresh Air Family. Please read the following information taken from their website. Or visit their website here.


If you or someone you know is able to host, please sign up now. In 2010, The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family program, called Friendly Town, gave close to 5,000 New York City boys and girls, ages six to 18, free summer experiences in the country and the suburbs. Volunteer host families shared their friendship and homes up to two weeks or more in 13 Northeastern states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.

Thanks to host families who open up their homes for a few weeks each summer, children growing up in New York City’s toughest neighborhoods have experienced the joys of Fresh Air experiences.

More than 65% of all children are reinvited to stay with their host family, year after year.

Fresh Air Fund Host Families

"It is rewarding to see the smile on our Fresh Air child's face as she enjoys the simple things we take for granted..."

Friendly Town host families are volunteers who live in the suburbs or small town communities. Host families range in size, ethnicity and background, but share the desire to open their hearts and homes to give city children an experience they will
never forget. Hosts say the Fresh Air experience is as enriching for their own families, as it is for the inner-city children. There are no financial requirements for hosting a child. Volunteers may request the age-group and gender of the Fresh Air youngster
they would like to host. Stories about real Fresh Air host families and their New York City visitors are just a click away!

Fresh Air Children

"We made s'mores and hot dogs over the fire. I've never cooked outside before!"

Fresh Air children are boys and girls, six to 18 years old, who live in New York City. Children on first-time visits are six to 12 years old and stay for either one or two weeks. Youngsters who are re-invited by the same family may continue with The Fund through age 18, and many enjoy longer summertime visits, year after year. A visit to the home of a warm and loving volunteer host family can make all the difference in the world to an inner-city child. All it takes to create lifelong memories is laughing in the sunshine and making new friends.

The majority of Fresh Air children are from low-income communities. These are often families without the resources to send their children on summer vacations. Most inner-city youngsters grow up in towering apartment buildings without large, open, outdoor play spaces. Concrete playgrounds cannot replace the freedom of running barefoot through the grass or riding bikes down country lanes.

Fresh Air children are registered by more than 90 participating social service and community organizations located in disadvantaged neighborhoods in the five boroughs of New York City. These community-based agencies are in close contact with children in need of summer experiences in rural and suburban areas. Each agency is responsible for registering children for the program.

What do Fresh Air children enjoy?

Playing in the backyard

Laughing in the sunshine
Catching fireflies
Riding bicycles
Learning to swim
Running barefoot through the grass
Gazing at the stars on moonlit nights
Building sandcastles
Making new friends
Simple pleasures of life away from the inner-city

The Fresh Air Fund at the Five Boro Bike Tour

Join The Fresh Air Fund at the Five Boro Bike Tour on May 1st! The largest recreational cycling event in America, the TD Bank Five Boro Bike Tour, leads bikers on a 42-mile fun course through the city and you can be a part of it! The Fund provides guaranteed entry into the event in exchange for a fundraising minimum. What better way to bike through an amazing route while knowing that the money you raise will help children from low-income communities who live throughout the city. Along the way, bikers will enjoy entertainment, rider photos, bike repair, medical support and the company of thousands of well-wishers! Click here for more information about the race! If you have questions or are interested in participating, please call Kate Brinkerhoff at (212) 897-8890 or email


You can give a child the experience of a lifetime with your gift to The Fresh Air Fund!

Every year, The Fresh Air Fund gives thousands of inner-city children the priceless gift of fun – and opens the door to a lifetime of opportunities.

Whether it's a two-week trip to visit a volunteer host family, or a fun-filled and educational stay at one of our camps, our programs make for unforgettable memories – and open a world of new friendships and fresh possibilities. We are a not-for-profit agency and depend on tax-deductible donations from people like you to keep our vital programs flourishing.

About The Fresh Air Fund

THE FRESH AIR FUND, an independent, not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer vacations to more than 1.7 million New York City children from low-income communities since 1877. Nearly 10,000 New York City children enjoy free Fresh Air Fund programs annually. In 2010, close to 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. 3,000 children also attended five Fresh Air camps on a 2,300-acre site in Fishkill, New York. The Fund’s year-round camping program serves an additional 2,000 young people each year.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Midweek Meditation Revisited - Be Inspired!!!

I used to have a regular feature. Each Wednesday or Thursday I would take a moment to post something, aside from adoption, designed to boost our walk with Christ. Sometimes write-ups, sometimes videos from YouTube, sometimes personal experiences. But as life moved from regular to incredibly random as our school year ended and our house sold, Midweek Meditation faded, then dropped off completely.

I miss it.

So, today, I am bringing it back. (Drum-roll, please!)

Each year our denomination hosts a conference - a spiritual get-together where people/families from around the country, and sometimes the world, unite for several days of spiritual instruction, prayer, and fellowship. We always look forward to these. This year it will be held at the Cohutta Springs Conference Center in Crandall, Georgia. The theme is, "Here Am I, Send Me."

I have been asked to cohost one of the afternoon meetings focusing on missions work. I have been compiling quotes from missionaries for the powerpoint portion of our presentation and have been incredibly blessed by what I've read. I just have to share!

Read these and be blessed!

"If a commission by an earthly king is considered an honor, how can a commission by a Heavenly King be considered a sacrifice?" - David Livingstone

“In the vast plain of the north, I have sometimes seen, in the morning sun, the smoke of a thousand villages where no missionary has ever been.” Robert Moffat

“We talk of the Second Coming; half of the world has never heard of the First.” Oswald J. Smith

“Some wish to live within the sound of a chapel bell, I wish to run a rescue mission within a yard of hell.” C. T. Studd

“I have but one candle of life to burn, and I would rather burn it out in a land filled with darkness than in a land flooded with light.” John Falconer

“The command has been to “Go” but we have stayed … in body, gifts, prayer and influence.”

“You can give without loving. You cannot love without giving.” Amy Carmichael

“The mark of a great church is not its seating capacity, but its sending capacity.” Mike Stachura

“Would that God would make hell so real to us that we cannot rest, and heaven so real that we must have men there.” J. Hudson Taylor

"The Great Commission1 is not an option to be considered; it is a command to be obeyed" — Hudson Taylor

"Never pity missionaries; envy them. They are where the real action is — where life and death, sin and grace, Heaven and Hell converge." — Robert C. Shannon

"Any church that is not seriously involved in helping fulfill the Great Commission has forfeited its biblical right to exist." — Oswald J. Smith

"If God calls you to be a missionary, don't stoop to be a king" — Jordan Grooms (variations of this also credited to G. K. Chesterson, Thomas Carlyle and Charles Haddon Spurgeon)

"If you found a cure for cancer, wouldn't it be inconceivable to hide it from the rest of mankind? How much more inconceivable to keep silent the cure from the eternal wages of death." — Dave Davidson

"The vineyard includes the whole world, and every part of it is to be worked. There are places which are now a moral wilderness, and these are to become as the garden of the Lord. The waste places of the earth are to be cultivated, that they may bud and blossom as the rose." Ellen White

"Prayer is the mighty engine that is to move the missionary work." — A.B. Simpson

"The will of God — nothing less, nothing more, nothing else." — F. E. Marsh (also attributed to Bobby Richardson)

"If the Great Commission is true, our plans are not too big; they are too small." — Pat Morley

"The history of missions is the history of answered prayer." — Samuel Zwemer

"The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time" — Carl F. H. Henry

"The best remedy for a sick church is to put it on a missionary diet." — Unknown

“Every great work of God, first is impossible, then it is difficult, and then it is done.” Hudson Taylor

"All the money needed to send and support an army of self-sacrificing, joy-spreading ambassadors is already in the church." — John Piper

"I believe that in each generation God has called enough men and women to evangelize all the yet unreached tribes of the earth. It is not God who does not call. It is man who will not respond!" — Isobel Kuhn, missionary to China and Thailand

"Go, send, or disobey." — John Piper

"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose" — Jim Elliot, missionary martyr who lost his life in the late 1950's trying to reach the Auca Indians of Ecuador

"Christ wants not nibblers of the possible, but grabbers of the impossible." — C.T. Studd

"No one has the right to hear the gospel twice, while there remains someone who has not heard it once." — Oswald J. Smith

"God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him." — Hudson Taylor, missionary to China

"One soul is of more value to heaven than a whole world of property, houses, lands, money. For the conversion of one soul we should tax our resources to the utmost." Ellen White

“This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations and then the end will come.” Jesus

“Here am I. Send me.” You :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

What I Missed

Sometimes time passes much too quickly. Sometimes time doesn't seem to go fast enough. And sometimes I just wish time would stand still and let me linger in the moment.

Yesterday, Quinn turned 23.

As I sit here writing this, my mind reels at the amount of time that has passed and how much he has grown up, and, somehow, I can't help feeling a little cheated.

I missed sitting next to his bassinet in the NICU unit due to the respiratory failure he suffered as a newborn.

I missed his first smile, his first steps, his first word.

I missed kissing away his first boo-boo, praying away his first nightmare, and calming his first fear.

I missed his first day of school, his first swim lesson, his first best friend.

I met him when he was only five. Having been placed in over ten foster homes already, he was a new placement in the group home where my sister volunteered. But she was not content with just visiting Quinn at the group home, she brought him home with her. And I promptly fell in love.

For the next four years, Quinn visited us regularly. During that time, my sister married and moved away, so I kept up the visits. When I couldn't go, my mom went. We adored him.

Finally, when he was nine, after jumping through many hoops, they allowed me to officially bring him home as a foster child. It would be two more years before I could finally adopt him.

But those years of foster care and group home care had left terrible scars upon his heart.

How do you learn to trust when the most important people in your life have not kept their promises?

How do you form attachments when the people in your life keep changing?

How do you fit into a family when you've never had one?

And so the battles began...

For the next seven years we stumbled along the path of healing, experiencing every emotion possible in the process - white hot rage, sorrow, joy, failure, success, peace, frustration, hope, love.

Sometimes I would lie in bed at night and, as the tears spilled down my cheeks, count the years left until he turned 18. Would we make it? Would we survive? I didn't know. I could only hope and pray. And pray. And pray. And pray...

Raising Quinn was hard.

It was frustrating.

It was good.

It was beautiful.





Today, I look back and am amazed at how fast it all went. Those frustrations? Those moments of discouragement? Those hard spots? Gone.

Quinn's all grown up now and lives far away. I miss him. Oh, how I miss him. I miss that little boy who used to cuddle with me when no one was looking. I miss his little hand in mine. I miss our good-night hugs. I miss reading stories to him. I miss the time I missed with him. And I simply hate it that I only got him for half of his childhood. But in my heart I know, that given the chance, I would do it all over again.

Sometimes time passes much too quickly. Sometimes time doesn't seem to go fast enough. Sometimes I wish time would stand still and let me linger in the moment for just a




Happy Birthday, Quinn!
Love, Your Mom

Monday, July 4, 2011

Orphans in a Land of No Freedom

Today is Independence Day.

The Fourth of July.

A memorial of our freedom as a country and as individuals.

A special day indeed.

Today we will eat our fill of potato salad and corn on the cob and watermelon.

We will enjoy the company of friends and family.

We will laugh.

We will sing.

We will celebrate.

And in all of our joy we might forget those who are not as free.

Those who suffer under unfriendly governments that severely limit

every word,

every thought,

every action,

even if that action is one of kindness.

Like caring for the orphans of North Korea

Who are routinely cleared off the streets like garbage.

Locked away in prisons like criminals.

Used in forced labor camps as slaves.

And forgotten.

Please take a moment today,

in the midst of your joyous festivities,

to bow your heads and remember

God's forgotten children.

Those who do not yet know the blessings of the freedom we celebrate today, but, with God's help, someday will.

Please take a moment to watch this video message from a former North Korean orphan who is now fighting for the lives of other North Korean orphans.

Have a blessed and safe Fourth of July.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My Favorite Four-Letter Word of the Day

We moved everything out of our house and into storage while we wait for our new place to become ready. For the time being, we are "camping out" with friends. The girls find this all ridiculously exciting. I, on the other hand, am looking forward to being settled again -

But for now, I'm just excited that the house is officially