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.
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.
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.
One of the qualities I like about myself is that I usually see the good in this world, specifically its people. It's something I have been teased about, even by my own daughter who says that in my world, unicorns poop skittles and fart rainbows. Kevin used to speak in the same tone as the "Twilight Zone" and say, "Nothing is as it seems, in the Angie Zone." I don't think I see a distorted view of the world, or didn't may be more accurate, I just saw what I wanted.
The thing is, I have had a harder time with this lately, and this is not a quality I want to lose. I have debated on why this is and attribute the negativity on Facebook for some, my own heart for most, the constant stream of negative news in the media, and listening to negative voices as well.
I have taken measures to keep my outlook on life. Limiting time on Facebook, spending time with uplifting people, regularly thanking God, but I feel I am my ability to see the blessings we are surrounded with each day.
I want that back!
People who see the bright side of things, do not do this because they are more privileged or had an easier life or just have not been knocked down in life; they see the world brighter because it is essentially a choice. I can honestly say that some of the most positive people I have met, have had some very hard things in their past.
I think I have decided to seek out the blessings in everyday life. I think I am going to start that journey today.... Does anyone have any ideas?
Often times I feel like I am not enough. I am not knowledgeable enough, I am not pretty enough, I am not outgoing enough, I am just not enough. Enough what you ask? I don't even know. I just have this vision of who I am supposed to be, but I am always falling short of this ideal person I want to be. Truth is, no matter what I accomplish in life, I will never be enough. God never designed us to be enough.
I love to watch people who I think are pretty dang amazing. My husband who runs two businesses, has an amazing job, and still manages to cuddle with Julia while listening to Emily talk about life. My bible study leader who I turn to way more than I'd like to admit. She has a knack for noticing when things are not quite right and getting to know many people at a personal level. She encourages, jokes, and is just pretty amazing. I see these people and many others like them, and I can see how God is taking their life and using it for his purposes. I can see that this world is a better place because they are here.
Then I look at me.
You know, my favorite movie of all time is, "It's a Wonderful Life." I love that George struggles his entire life. He has big dreams and high hopes, but never attains those things. Countless times, he finds himself at a moral crossroads. He needs to choose between good for others or good for himself. He, time after time, chooses what is good for others. It would not have been bad had he chose himself, he would have been right in doing so. But that was not in George's character. He followed a moral code higher than that. It didn't make his life any more enjoyable or great. He still struggled, he still found himself unhappy, he still wasn't enough in his own eyes. But what he didn't realize is that, because he lived, the world was a better place.
This movie makes me think about my own life. Life is hard. Life is not always joyful, and truth is even if I made all the right decisions, that does not guarantee that I would find happiness. Happiness should never be the goal anyway, it's temporary and circumstantial. But I would like to think that my choices in life have made this world a little brighter. It helps me to realize, it doesn't really matter if I am enough. I try. I try to serve others. I try to do good. I fail, but even in all my failure, I strive for good. So I look at myself one last time, and I realize that I don't know how well I have done up to this point, but I know what direction I am headed. I want to affect others, I want to change this world for the better. I may not always succeed, but I hope that when God calls me home, that I can look back and be happy that this world was a better place because I was here.
I wish I knew then what I know now. The older I get, the more this crosses my mind. I would have been more patient, more understanding, less judgmental had I realized or known or experienced. It isn't about any one thing, but a myriad of things: parenting, friendships, scripture, education, work, life.
Above all else, I am learning how and when to use my voice. Growing up, I didn't speak and later learned to be open. Then needed to learn when to be quiet. There's value in both and knowing when each is necessary is key.
Truth is I struggle a lot with small things. I have learned we all do in our own ways. I try and I improve. I look to God, mentors, scripture, and books. I use to think I was unique in my insecurities, but now know we all struggle. I struggle making casual friendships. I long to have those friendships that you can just sit next to and chat for the sake of chatting. When I do try, people leave the conversation or the talk goes dead. Then there are others who long for deep friendships, but don't have them. I have those.
The older I get the more I recognize that we all are struggling. We all have insecurities. We are not unique and alone. Yes, there are things I wish I could change about me, but more than anything I have learned that others seldom care where I fall short, they are just hoping to have that person walk alongside them ignoring where they fall short. They want to know they have value, just as I wish to know my own worth.
A friend told me a really good quote. I'm not going to say it right, but the gist is "It's not about the great things you do, but about the continual good things you do that create a great person."
I love that and I think it is true. Jesus did some really great things, like heal the sick, bring Lazarus back to life, die on the cross, raise again, but it's not those things we try to do to emulate him, it's the other stuff, the everyday good stuff, the stuff he did out of love. He talked with the people that most of us would have avoided, he was willing to touch people who others were afraid of, he was willing to put the needs of others ahead of his own personal image, he loved people regardless of race, religion, occupation, lifestyle.
Truth is, I fail daily, yet I wake each day trying to be better than I was the day before. Each day brings new learning moments. I am continuously trying to learn patience with family members. That's the hardest for me. I am patient with everyone, except the people I love the most. I end up saying I'm sorry more often than I would like to admit. But the one thing I always keep in mind is how I can love people. I think that's what I love about Jesus, he loved people. He didn't care if they had sores all over their body making them uncomfortable to look at, he didn't care if they were believers or nonbelievers, he didn't care that their past was marred with mistakes and failures, he just loved them.
When I was younger, I tried to be a good person by not doing "bad" things. When your goal is not to do "bad" things, you lose sight of what's really important, and lose out on a lot of joy in life. I am not saying if I had done "bad" things, I would have had more joy, but my focus was all wrong. For one you become very legalistic that way, judgementality creeps up, and you constantly feel like a failure, because inevitably you do do "bad things."
I have learned that loving people was way more important than any other thing the Bible teaches. When we are so busy loving others, the bad stuff disappears on its own.
If you look at every single one of the ten commandments, you would find that they all have one thing in common, if you truly loved everyone with a perfect love, then you would not break a single one of those commandments. You cannot be loving towards someone and steal from them, lie about them, murder them, covet their wife/cow/etc.
I know I fail at times, but we all do. If we didn't, we wouldn't be on this side of heaven, but tomorrow, I will try to love better than I did today.
I have said, my life verse is, "A man's heart makes his plans, but the Lord determines his steps." Proverbs 16:9.
This week I am reminded of this time and time again, as there have been many things that caused me to reflect on my infertility journey. I have planned a big family, but little did I know my family may not have ended up looking like I had thought. I wanted many kids and eventually many grandkids. I forwent some bigger plans, assuming this was the path I was going to take. God had other plans.
Amazingly though, I do have a big family. It helps between my husband and I we have eight siblings and all but three are married and many are beginning to have kids. Then of course I have been blessed with friends who will eternally be my sisters, because they have snuck under my heart so far, that neither death nor anger could ever truly separate them from me. They have children, expanding my heart more!
So I continue to make plans. I do not regret postponing my career dreams for my family dreams, because amazingly God has given me my career desires too, I just don't get paid for them.
As I said we continue to make our plans, I continue to have my hopes, and the Lord will continue to determine my steps. I don't always agree with how he has decided to build things while they are happening, I must say, I love how my life is turning out.
I will never forget the first time, I felt judged when someone questioned why I was not involved within the church (building), as if I am not working within the church (building) then I must not be working for the Lord. I think too often we get so caught up in service within those four walls, we forget that our ministry is so much bigger than that.
Now, I do work within the church (building) every fifth Sunday of every month, which is not very often, and as of late I do help out children after school with school work inside the church (building), I also help out a youth organization at a church building that I do not attend, but the ministries God has called me most strongly to are not within those four walls.
If we all only worked within those four walls, then how on earth (because by the time we get to Heaven it is too late) will we ever spread the Good News to those who need it the most.
Now, don't get me wrong, we need our youth leaders, our cleaning staff, our deacons, our worship leaders, but we would never have needed them, if no one ever stepped outside of those four walls and brought people there in the first place. Please, if you can, do not leave those very important positions, but do not judge the Christian who does not do that, because you do not know where God has led them.
I have a dear friend who is a single mom, who works full time. (First off being a single mom is a ministry in itself, not only are you the fun parent, but the mean parent as well, and at the end of the day you can't complain to the other parent saying, "I hope we never have to relive this day.") Her full time job, on top of motherhood, is working with inner city youth. Maybe it is not for a Christian organization, but doesn't God say, go to all the ends of the earth, and spread the Good News. Well, doesn't that mean in non-Christian places too. That woman is in full-time ministry. She might not overtly speak the Word of God to her students, but to some of them, they are the closest thing to Jesus they will ever witness.
Now, I hope people do not use my words to say, they do not need to enter certain ministries, because they are already doing "enough" for God, because trust me, you "ain't." God breathed life into your lungs and He is the reason you are here everyday. There will never be "enough" that we can do to honor our Lord. What I am saying is, do not assume, just because someone is not serving the Lord within the confines of your church building that they are not serving the Lord to how God called them. You do not know their heart.
Encourage them to work within the church, encourage them to work outside the church, but more than that, bother to get to know them so you CAN see where God is working in their lives. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that that person you thought was lazy in the eyes of the Lord, is a strong force bringing hundreds to Christ outside of those four walls. If not, then maybe they need a sweet hand and a soft heart to guide them, not a judging stare.
Today, from the most unlikely source, I was discouraged about our upcoming plans of IVF - on Mother's Day of all days. It was not a disproving statement, but a passive statement about the odds being against us and not sure the money is well spent. This was from the same person who discouraged us doing foster care. It makes me wonder how often, I, myself, have discouraged somebody through thoughtless words. Too often I speak without thinking about how the words impact others. I wish I could be a more positive influence.
I have to admit, the feelings of discouragement filled me for only a brief second, until I reminded myself of Robert Frost's The Road Less Traveled. Something I have been thinking about A LOT.
My entire life, I have never been able to take the road everyone else took. I have always felt like the black sheep.
When you are young and the black sheep, you think something is wrong with you. When you're older, you begin to realize how blessed you are as a result. Sometimes my road was picked for me, for, "we make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps," Proverbs 16:9. Other times, I clearly went against the grain on my own accord.
Not all roads were pleasant, but all roads were worth the travel.
So this year, I will be making two journeys, each through a road less traveled. They may lead to heartache or hardship, but I do believe, just as the great poem says, it will make "all the difference."
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.