Thursday, September 26, 2013

Abba Daddy



Last Sunday my brother preached on Luke 11:1-13 (Typically known as the Lord’s Prayer, although some have coined the term, “The Disciples’ Prayer”).  The message was comprehensive but I just couldn’t get past the very first point – The Lord’s Prayer reminds us of our identity.  When Jesus starts to teach the disciples how to pray, he begins with the word “Father” to address God. 

The actual word “Father” that he uses cannot be found in any other Jewish Literature to refer to God leading up to that point.  It was a term of endearment, “Abba”.  It was addressing God as we would address our “daddies”.  Very informal, familiar, intimate.  Matt remarked that it was interesting to note that Jesus starts every prayer we see in scripture with “Father” “Abba” with only ONE exception.  As Jesus endured all of the punishment for every sin in all of humanity in our place, he cried, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  The one time he prays “God” and not “Abba” is precisely why we (you and I) can now call God our Father as well. 

The problem comes when I forget that I’m a child of God--- adopted into his family in an eternal covenant of grace.  As Matt stated, “I forget that I’m a child of God and start acting like an orphan.”  As if I have no one who has embraced me “no matter what”, drawn me in and called me by a new name.  I struggle to remember who I am and who my “Abba” (“Daddy”) is.

The concept of God as a father has not always resonated with me.  My father and I spent many years in a relationship fraught with conflict (I did get his permission to publish this first).  In my childish eyes, I associated discipline with punishment.  I read his fear as anger. And I internalized his “teaching” as me never being “good enough”… there was always something I could have done better.  A picture of a god like that did not appeal to me in the slightest.  In addition I grew up knowing that I had had a birth father that was killed when I was 7 weeks old and it left a big empty hole in my heart.  I couldn’t imagine God or anyone else for that matter taking their place in the void I carried with me.  I was instead drawn to scriptures that highlighted his more “feminine” traits.  Verses like Matthew 23:37 where God says, “…How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings…” or references to God being our “hiding place” or refuge.  These made sense to me.

My dad will be the first one to tell you that sometime in my early 20’s God worked a healing in our relationship.  I was able then to take God in his entirety… both his male and female attributes. 

I think another moment when I found a new level of understanding God as my Father/Daddy was when we adopted our daughter from China.  In China the word for Daddy is “Baba”… so very close to “Abba”.  The first time I heard my daughter call Larry “Baba”, a shift happened again.  I had seen Larry parent all of our other children and do it well.  What made this situation different was the fact that this little girl, who had never seen, heard, or smelled a “white” person in her life, was calling this stranger, “Baba” not knowing that for many months this Daddy had gazed at pictures of her, prayed for her daily, prepared for her, worked hard to get to her and to finally give hero to have a true home and a “Baba”.

When I thought of all that Larry had done and given to make this child his own I grasped anew all that God had done to make me part of His family.  All the “work” that went into bringing Madeleine home is nothing compared to what God did so that I could be adopted and call him “Abba/Daddy”.

So, what was my “take away”?  To continually remind myself who I am and who my Daddy is… to keep this as the lens through which I see everything else… my joys, my worship, my marriage, my parenting, my confidence (or lack thereof) and my trials… God is MY Daddy!  He is completely in control.  Everything thing that happens in my life, easy or difficult, tragic or joyous is ultimately for my good and His glory.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Update

I have several things I'd like to share with you (and some will have to wait until after Benjamin comes home!)

Benjamin Li
First of all, our Rummage Sale was incredibly successful thanks to help from some amazing friends and donors of items and Canyon Community Church who graciously allowed us to use their yard, parking lot and tables.

Second, we did get a little bad news last week... apparently after we sent our dossier (paperwork) to China, it was "misplaced" for about 6 weeks.  Typically a dossier get a log in date within days of them receiving it.  Instead, although we sent ours at the end of June, it was not logged in until August 13th.  While this is discouraging, we know God's timing is perfect and we also have the assurance that Benjamin is receiving excellent care right now.

Which leads to my other news... Benjamin is physically doing very well.  So well that we may not have to take oxygen with us for our flight home!  God is performing miracles every day in the life of our little boy.  We are continually in a state of amazement as we see God working in ways we could never have even dreamed up.  I, personally, can not wait for him to come home so that we can share his whole story with you.

I have been so overwhelmed by all the support we have been given by family, friends and even strangers.  One of the hidden benefits of adoption is that the adoption world is fairly small.  When it comes to International Adoption it becomes even smaller.  It is smaller still when one is specifically adopting from China.  And then smaller still when adopting a child with special needs.  There are wonderful Facebook groups and Yahoo groups for each of these "worlds".  I have made some very dear friends, simply through going through the adoption process at the same time.  When we adopted Madeleine in 2005, we were part of Yahoo group then also.  I got to meet up with 2 of them in China and still keep in touch with about 5 of them.  My sister/buddy back in 2005 was from Michigan (this is when we lived right on the Michigan/Indiana border) and was named Melissa also. We had fun with that, became wonderful cyber friends and then met up in China with our girls and husbands.  The funny thing is that Melissa W. is in my current adoption group too!  They are adopting again right at the exact same time as us!

Melissa and Laura
Another person I have grown to love so much is my dear, dear friend, Laura Kessler. She is adopting the most smiley toddler I have ever seen from the same agency as us and is a few weeks ahead of us in the process (well, actually probably a little more now with our hiccup in our timeline).  We talk, text, email almost every day.  We've intently studied our boys' pictures and videos and have them memorized.  AND her son's name?  Benjamin!  I feel like God gave me Laura as a special gift and I will be forever thankful for someone to laugh with, cry with, get frustrated with, dream with, and wait with.

Keep checking back here!  Very soon we will be having an online auction on the blog, Bring Benjamin Home, with some exciting items!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Time Is Running Out

The fate of an orphan in China varies dramatically from those children here in the United States that need families.  Besides being institutionalized, once a Chinese orphan turns 14 they are no longer able to be adopted - either internationally or domestically.  They "age out" of the system. They have missed their opportunity to ever have a family.

Meet Adalai.  Adalai's original paperwork stated that she was born in January of 2001.  That meant there was only a little more than a year to find her a family.  It was recently learned that Adalai's birthday was listed incorrectly and is in fact January of 2000.  This means she has FOUR months to find a family. Adalai is also Hepatitis B + (for more information on this special need, please contact me privately).

Because of the urgency, a family who is homestudy ready or is able to reuse a dossier has the best chance of getting her home.

Adalai is listed with our agency, Children's House International, and we are desperate to find a forever family for her. Adalai lived with a foster family for two years, when her foster family had an emergency she was sent back to the SWI and has lived there for the last 8 years.

Adalai often volunteers to help her teachers as well as other students, was elected as student of the week, and gets along well with her classmates. Adalai loves to sing, run, play games, weave bracelets, draw beautiful pictures, and as any teenage girl her age… loves Hong Kong dramas! Adalai is a fantastic artist, has a beautiful voice and truly wants to find a forever family. She is active at school, leads other children in exercise classes, and works hard to improve her academic abilities. Her SWI describes Adalai as lovely, lively, and liked by everybody.

Her last trip to the doctor for testing reported all normal findings indicating that she has fully recovered from the HBV virus. But Adalai suffers from a mild degree of disturbance in her language ability and a moderate degree of operation capabilities. The SWI believes this is because she has been brought up in an institution and did not receive sufficient early education. Despite all this Adalai has shown great progress in math, reading, writing, and mathematics. We just know this young girl will thrive when she finds her forever family!

PLEASE- Please consider Adalai or consider advocating for her amongst your friends and family.  Time is running out for this precious girl.