Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Calling Complete*

Stop the chronological blogging!

I was just asked to write an article for our church in regards to a ministry they offer called "The Call".

The Call ministry was how we found out about Grace so we were happy to write something for it.

Now I don't know if they'll actually use this… and even if they do, I think a total of  ? people read my blog anyway {enter cricket sounds}… so, it's fine.

Let me know what you think!

Almost 3 years ago, God called our family to adopt an orphan. We didn't know how that would look, but we knew God was calling us to it because my husband, Mark, and I always said that if we could have children of our own, we wouldn’t adopt. 

Our son had just turned a year old when the adoption seed started to sprout. We took a good 3 months to pray about this, knowing the seriousness of the decision we were about to make, to confirm that this was what God wanted us to do. 

It was.

We spent the next 2 years prayerfully searching to fulfill that calling. One way we did so was by joining the group at Lakeside called “The Call Ministry”. 

There, we were touched and humbled by people’s journeys. No two stories were alike and we loved how open and informative everyone was about the topic of “Adoption”. Mainly, we liked that we were part of a bigger group of Christ followers who had the same calling. 

We weren’t alone.

Together we explored the options: international, domestic, private, foster care, fost-adopt, and being a safe family through the Safe Families Ministry.

After a roller coaster of events and seemingly failed attempts to adopt a child, God provided and did so in His own timing and a way that would show us that this was clearly all Him and His doing.

Two scriptures really stood out to me in our calling: 
James 1:27 and Matthew 25:40

"Religion that God our Father finds pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." 
- James 1:27

Out of this, I felt God calling me to reach out to love and protect a child - as one of my own - regardless of what the world would think about it. Why? Because it's pure goodness in a broken world and regardless of what "religion" you choose to follow, all would agree that taking in an orphan and raising him or her as your own is good. It is right. It is pure.

I hope everyone knows that Mark and I are not pure
Do not make the mistake of looking at us and giving us the credit for such "pure goodness".
We do not belong on such a pedestal but proudly point to the One who does:

"Every good and perfect gift is from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows." 
- James 1:17

God put the seeds of adoption in our hearts. God is at work to redeem brokenness. It's how He rolls. I personally like to stay away from brokenness... (That's how pure selfish I am) but God called us to dive head first into it. 

Matthew 25:40 says, "The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" This was in response to "...For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked out for me, I was in prison and you visited me..." 
(Matthew 25:35-36)

What I got out of this was God point blank asking me, "Do you love me? Really? Then do something about it... every person that you FEED, QUINCH, WELCOME, CLOTHE, CARE FOR, and VISIT, you do for me.

I truly thought the only way we could do that was by adopting internationally. I remembered thinking that we could do all the above but "visit" a child if we adopted through the foster system or domestically.


We got an email from one of the leaders of The Call asking if we would be open to adopting a little girl due to arrive in a week or so.

The teenage birth mom had contacted Lakeside looking for help as she had made the decision to place her baby in a loving home.

That baby is our Grace Elizabeth.
We got the call. We responded as God had asked us to.

Before Gracie was born, I went to her doctor's appointment and heard her heart beat in utero.

I went with her birth Mom to get a pedicure when she was due any day.

Mark and I took her, her boyfriend, and friend out to dinner to get to know each other.

We met and visited our daughter the day she was born at the hospital.

We visited again at the hospital and got to meet Grace's biological grandma too.

We visited... but we didn't just visit with Gracie. We visited with people who have a connection to her and started to build relationships with people who may (or may not) be important to her.

We agreed to an open adoption.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that God is using us not only to visit but to share.

And this, my friends, is the difference between a short term missions trip and living out your faith over a lifetime.

Relationships... that is what Jesus is all about.

I'm not saying God isn't present in short term missions trips... He is present all the time!... its the difference between listening to a sermon one weekend versus sharing life with a person in love with Christ. One has a longer lasting and deeper effect.

God didn't put His son on this earth the day he went to the cross...
God sent His son as a baby... and gave the world 30 years of personal, tangible, human relationship with us. 

He cared to share.
And He asked so much of me as well.

Not just to feed, quinch, welcome, clothe, care for, and visit like I thought. 

Nope, He later reminded me I was only completing half of what He really asks.

The greatest commandment is to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these." 
- Mark 12:30-31

Love God? Of course! That's easy... not always, especially when you're asked to "feed, clothe, visit... etc." But really, it's the least I can do for what He has done for me.

But love your neighbor?
To love my neighbor as myself???

To continue to love on another mother who longs for your child because she feels the pain of her loss/your gain?
To stay connected to a group of strangers who love your daughter because it helps them heal and possibly your daughter to heal down the road of her journey?

To love on those neighbors? As I would like to be loved on if it were me?


To love means to love. No matter what the cost of my own heart (not the cost of anyone's safety... I'm referring to dying to self).

On one hand, I "completed a calling" but on the other hand, it was the tip of the iceberg.

So this is where the * comes in...

*Adoption wasn't a "category" that I could check off the bucket list of "Things I want to do for God". It was a calling that God incorporated into the umbrella of the greatest calling.

Which, according to Jesus, matters more.
"...there is no greater commandment".

It started with a calling.

The journey was anything but glamorous or smooth.
But we are blessed because we believed God and stuck with Him until He proved His faithfulness.

We are grateful for The Call ministry at Lakeside.
The love and support we received through them was Christ with us working as His body to fulfill His calling.

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