I believe God was very intentional when He said we were adopted into His Kingdom. Depending on your life experience, many different images pop into your mind when you think of adoption. For me, it begins with my daughter. There is a side of adoption many choose to ignore, but I think is essential in understanding salvation and why God has adopted us. The truth is He created us, we are His. He could have chosen different imagery such as reunited, but He intentionally chose the word picture adoption to explain salvation.
The Ugly Side of Adoption
Usually, when people think about adoption, we think of happy tears and smiling families. We think of joy and love. Yes, that is a part of adoption, but the truth is every single adoption began out of pain. Even the happiest most ideal adoption would not have occurred had there not been pain. The pain of realizing another home was better/necessary. The pain of fear. The pain of loss. The pain of a million things that cause mother and child to separate.
Our adoption by God is much the same way. Take a look around. There is so much hurt, sorrow, fear, hate, pain in this world. This world is not a suitable mother. We are never going to be complete as long as this world is our guide, our leader, our parent. We need, desperately, a new parent whom is loving, patient, kind and whom will help us heal from our first home. Help us grow into who we were meant to be. But then, that doesn't mean we lose all touch with our old home. We still remember and care and love our old home.
The Beauty of Adoption
The five things I have found essential in being an adoptive mother is forgiveness, redemption, hope, faith, and love. We need to teach our children to forgive the past and redeem the future. Adoption is all about redemption and healing. We need to provide hope for our future, faith that the family is forever, and oh boy the greatest element is love - lots and lots of love.
God wants us join His family and to forgive others. He models it perfectly in the forgiveness he gives us. He redeems our soul and helps us to redeem our poor life choices. He gives us hope that someday we won't live in this world wrought with pain. He teaches us to have faith. He will never leave us nor forsake us. Then there is love - so much love. He is the author of love.
Biblical Clues on Earthly Adoption
The thing that always strikes me from the Bible is how God refers to Jesus's family. We know Mary gave birth to Him. We don't truly know what DNA God gave Him. Was it half Mary, half something/one else? Was it fully Mary with altered sex genes? Was it no genes from Mary, but a full new being with His own unique DNA? I don't think it matters. God made it clear Mary was his mother and Joseph, God recognized as His earthly father. Some refer to Joseph as his stepdad, foster dad, adoptive dad, but the Bible refers to him as his father and even uses Joseph's genealogy in Matthew.
Even in Luke, where it shows Mary's genealogical line, not Joseph's, Luke 2:33 references Joseph as his father. Not an adoptive father, not stepfather, there is no clarifier. Then again, I often hear people also refer to Jesus's brothers and sisters as his half/brothers and sisters, but in Mark 3, God clearly calls them brothers. Yet again there is no clarifier, it states just brothers.
As an adoptive mom, this is significant. It tells me that God does not look at the biology of Jesus when determining his line. He looked at the people He placed to raise Him as His true family. Just like when God adopts us into His family, he is not just our Father because He created us, but because He adopted us. He's not our adoptive father, He is our Father. We are family.
Recently I was reading Lifeonaire by by Steve Cook and Shaun McCloskey. My husband picked it up because he had heard the authors speaking at an RPOA meeting and really like what they had to say. When it came in the mail, I was instantly intrigued by what it said on the back, but set it aside. My husband, on the other hand, read it in a few days and told me I should read it, because it went along with our minimalist efforts. Since I always have five books going, I wasn't too quick to pick it up. I am so glad I did.
Trapped in A Cycle of Debt
Before I picked up this book, I felt like my life was being paved to be ready to really take in what this book had to say. My husband and I already began minimizing our things in order to experience more life. We already tried to be more conscientious about our spending and discussed ways to get out of debt... again. Because once was not enough for us, we had to learn the lesson twice, but this time we wanted to be mortgage free as well.
The book then talked about how when we graduate high school, we are expected to start college. To pay for college, we assume we should get student loans. To travel to school, we buy a car. Again taking out yet another loan. Then we graduate, buy a house - with a mortgage. We then start life hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt before we even turn twenty-five.
Due to all of that debt, we end up serving banks for 30+ years just to pay back what we already bought but don't yet truly own. Then we continue this cycle as we get bigger and better incomes, buy bigger and better things, with bigger and not better loans. Yet instead of more free and more fulfilled, we find we are more trapped and less content.
A Different Way of Thinking
It made me realize when my husband and I made a quarter of the income we make now, our life was freer and more joyful. We fell into the same trap as many others have fallen. We need to change what we are doing, because what we are doing and the way we are thinking just is not working. We want to enjoy our kids, each other, our life. The way we kept thinking was if we made more money, things would be easier. What we needed to think was if we spend less, then life will be easier, we will feel freer, and we would feel more fulfilled. It caused us to reevaluate our wants, our needs, and our choices. That's why we decided to sell our 2,700 square foot, 5 bedroom house for a smaller three bedroom house. One we could pay off in a short time, not thirty years.
Achieving Our Goals
We are still trying to figure out what changes we need to make to achieve our goal, and still trying to figure out what it all means, how we are going to become debt free (again); this time mortgage and all. At least we have a plan or a semblance of a plan. We know we want my husband to stop working 80 hours a week. We don't know exactly how their goals will be achieved but through our minimalist lifestyle, paying off our debt, we hope we can achieve the life we want sooner. I do know the changes we have already made has led to happier daughters, a more joyful life, and a more relaxed husband. If you have ever thought I wish I made more money or I wish I had more time, I strongly recommend you read Lifeonaire. (Included is an affiliate link to buy the book.)
As I was driving home today from a friend's house my fourteen-year-old daughter reiterated words that I have heard my own heart say, "I don't feel like I am enough." I confessed my own heart's yearning and explained that is a lie so many women believe.
Why do we live in a society that feels like we are not enough? Enough of what I will never understand.
I have been reading Jennie Allen's book Restless, and I see how this "not enough" feeling is our own heart's restlessness. We want to have a purpose. We want to matter. We want to make a difference, yet we are a society driven by fear.
The Pain of Being Judged
For me I fear the judgement of others. I have all these big dreams that I am afraid to fulfill because I am afraid of what others will think. I have very conservative Christian beliefs, which is widely rejected by many, especially as our society becomes more divisive. What I want more than anything is to have an impact on the world around me. I think we all do.
Though I have these plans in my heart and in my mind, some since I was a little girl, I hesitate out of fear that I will be criticized. Fear that I will be told I'm wrong, even when I know I'm right. Fear that my abilities will not stack up to those who are more gifted and my failings will be pointed out. When it comes down to it, I fear man's opinion more than I fear God's.
There is a danger in that. I am also missing out on what God has planned for me if only I took those steps. As Jennie Allen stated, I end up feeling restless because I am not doing what I was born to do.
#1 Man Makes His Plans, But the Lord Determines His Steps
My life verse has always been Proverbs 16:9, "A man's heart plans his course, but Yahweh directs his steps." I knew from the time I was a little girl that I wanted two things more than anything; to be a mommy of a big family and to be a writer.
Life didn't quite go as planned. I spent six years trying to get pregnant, before I was given the great privilege of raising my oldest daughter, whom also happened to be my cousin's daughter, who passed away. (We were blessed in being able to adopt her 8 years ago today, on my 29th birthday!)
I then gave up the idea of naturally conceiving and we decided to adopt. Along the way I met 8 more beautiful children, 2 lifelong friends (two of their moms), and I wouldn't change a moment of it. Yet, God didn't choose adoption again for me. We tried IVF, only to learn my eggs were not suitable for procreation. Then after several more tries, my youngest babe was conceived through IVF (donated eggs). I planned to be a mom... God chose how I would get there.
Review of the Book by Candace Cameron Bure
Recently a friend of mine and I took my oldest to meet Candace Cameron Bure. I was a fan of Full House and have seen a couple episodes of Fuller House, but honestly I was no more of a fan of Candace Cameron Bure than anyone else. My friend on the other hand saw something beautiful in her and strongly encouraged me to join her. I agreed because I love to read, and I heard it was a Christian book. I enjoyed myself immensely and she was truly kind.
Despite the great time, I did not have high hopes for the book. I bought one anyway, because why go to a book signing, if you are not going to purchase the book.
Candace Cameron Bure Displays Strong Christian Values
Now, I knew that she was a Christian. Since I watch very little TV and rarely read about celebrities, I assumed she had a watered down faith. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that her book promotes having a strong relationship with God, reading the Bible, and praying continuously. From the beginning to the end, she discusses how her faith has directed life in every area whether she is working, being a mom, or even working out. Her faith in God rivals other Christian speakers and writers. She is definitely a person worthy to look up to, in order to grow as a Christian.
Have you ever thought about how people seem to have become more polarized in their views? Today I was listening to a guy who knows a lot about security and technology speak in The Edge series from Life Leadership. He pointed out the dangers of social media. This one was unlike any danger I had ever heard. He said that social media is narrowing our political/spiritual/social view on life. We only "like" what we like. We only "follow" certain people. The advertisements are geared towards our personal computer/search habits. We are putting ourselves in a bubble, but so are search engines.
A Dangerous Cycle of Reaffirmation
Basically what we are doing is reaffirming to ourselves that we are right. Few people reach out and look for varying views. Most choose to find things that either affirm their own belief, or are so kooky that they make those with varying beliefs seem ridiculous.
This made me think about a few days ago when I went on YouTube. I intentionally wanted to see what people felt about a particular hot topic. I have a certain leaning, and YouTube has gathered this due to my searches. The problem is, I could only find things that I particularly agreed with. When I did find things that appeared to support the opposite point of view, it mocked that point of view.
How Can We Ever Learn Others Perspective?
The problem is, I sincerely wanted to hear what others are saying. I ended up giving up, turning off my computer, and going to bed. I didn't think too much of why this happened at the time. Instead I thought it was odd, since I knew there had to be hundreds, possibly thousands of videos that opposed my point of view. I just accepted it an didn't question it.
Then as this man spoke, I was struck at why that had happened. I had trained my computer to only see that point of view, because it's something I am passionate about. Then I got to think about how since the internet learns our behaviors, it has not allowed for true healthy conversation on the topics. I then realized, two people can search the same thing, and based on tendencies, searches will come up that support what that person would typically want to hear. Had many of my friends typed the same search in YouTube, it is likely different videos would have shown up.
Maybe We Shouldn't Be So Eager for Tech Advancements
On a deeper side of this, it is making me realize that our technology, though very great and helpful, has many very far-reaching issues that should cause us to be hesitant even when typing in a search or looking up "facts." I love technology, but we definitely need to use with caution.
I am at the upper end of being a millennial and my daughter is just shy of being one. Too often I hear that millennials are lazy and irresponsible. That is not the legacy neither of us want to leave behind. This belief has gotten so strong that many articles have been written on how to make your child more responsible. I am proud to say that my daughter is a responsible fourteen year old. Whether I can credit myself for instilling these ethics or my daughters own tenacity, I do feel that there were five key things that I will continue to do with her little sister in hopes she earns the same work ethic.
#1 Give Daily Chores
I have been astounded by the many parents who have said to me, "that's a lot of chores for a ____ year old." Honestly, it takes her anywhere between fifteen minutes to a half hour to complete her chores. Whether your child is five or eighteen, I do not think that fifteen minutes of chores is too much. They have a lifetime of responsibilities ahead of them, and they need to learn while they are young what it takes to have a successful household.
Having had many foster kids in my house, I have had several babysitters throughout the years. I have been astounded at the number of teenagers who were unable to make macaroni and cheese. It is because of this that it does not surprise me the number of kids dropping out of college and living back at home.
Our household did not stop with daily chores, she was also expected to do weekly chores, such as take the garbage to the road every Tuesday and give the dogs a bath on Friday.
A couple weeks ago I went to a writing conference (Maven Coalition Conference). It was a huge opportunity. They paid all my expenses and I got to tour the beautiful Whistler in British Columbia. It was amazing! All these great minds were there! Then the speaker said "I have invited all of the greatest minds in journalism and have high hopes for each of us in our individual businesses."
"I Am Such a Fraud"
There I stood listening to him, and not for the first nor the last time that weekend, I felt like a fraud.
"Great mind?" I have the memory of a fish! No, not a great mind!
"Journalist?" Well, I've never thought of myself as that. I guess having published 249 articles in my life does make me a journalist. Yet, I'm not an expert! Wait, that was the word they used in my invitation. Could they have made a mistake? Maybe I got an invitation by mistake. Did they really mean to invite ME?!?!?
As he closed his speech I prayed that God would help me through that weekend? I didn't want everyone to know how desperately I need an editor. How I have stuff published I am embarrassed about. I didn't want anyone to know, I didn't really belong among all these great minds and journalists.
Then I found a friend.
Today as I was sitting on the couch, my toddler sat next to me brushing her "Barbar's" (Barbie's) hair. My oldest was sitting at my feet strumming on her ukulele singing everything from "Over the Rainbow" to "Riptide." My dogs were crowding me off the couch, and my husband sat on the rocker listening to her sing. It's moments like that, that I wish I could freeze. During those hard moments of being a mom, you wish you could just conjure up in your brain that very moment so you remember it is all worth it.
Truth is, I have a lot of those moments.
Yet, seldom do I enjoy those moments.
I often will be thinking about the next days plans or checking my business emails or annoyed that everyone is goofing off when we could be getting things done. Rarely or rather not enough do I just sit and enjoy.
Man am I missing out on life.
Toddler Induced Insanity [tod-ler in-doost in-san-i-tee] noun, plural - a derangement of the mind led by, influenced by, or produced by a small child who has an insatiable hunger for love and affection with rapid irratic changes in mood and temperament.
If you have ever lived with a toddler, you have probably succumbed to the horrors of toddler induced insanity. To know if you have this disease, it is important to understand both the symptoms and causes.
Unfortunately, there are no treatments, but there are ways to help cope with your new found disease. Here are the top five, which I learned after my years of thorough research through babysitting, nannying, doing foster care, and raising my own toddler.
This Christian mom is far from perfect, but continually strives to grow and develop. She is an avid reader of both fiction and non-fiction and focuses a lot on personal growth. She loves to share what she has learned through her studies and her own failures, as well as walks alongside other mothers as they learn together the ins and outs of parenting.