Bare in the light (Easter '13)

Let me one of the last to wish you a very happy Easter day!

He is risen.

He is risen indeed!

I always feel like I've gone though a spiritual death and re-birth after Easter. When I was growing up I was always jealous of those Christians who could name their conversion experience and talk about their lives Before Christ and After Christ, definitively. Me- well, I grew up in the church. I can't name a moment when I became a Christian; instead I grew into my faith like I grew into my very body. Little by little. Inch by inch. Maturing slowly and surely.

I've learned to set aside those jealous feelings and see the beauty in my own story. Well over a century ago an American pastor named Horace Bushnell wrote a book called Christian Nurture and in it, he wrote once sentence that summarizes the goal of nurturing and educating a child in the faith: "A child is to grow up a Christian and never know himself or herself as being otherwise."

It wasn't until I first heard that quote that I realized that I am the result of spiritual nurture gone right. I am a person who grew up in the light of God's grace and I have never known myself otherwise. It is a gift that humbles me and makes me sing in worship: that I have never known myself outside of Christ. Whatever struggles I've faced in my faith (and Lord knows there have been struggles), they've all been struggles with God. My own spiritual version of Jacob's bodily wrestle with God.

I've begun praying that my son would know himself the same way I have: always in the light of God's grace.

But even when you've always known yourself in the light of grace, you can't be blind to your sin. And I really mean can't as in cannot, not shan't as in should not.  You CANNOT be blind to your sin when you live in the light of God's grace because you are laid bare before him. When I was in college my then-professor and now-friend Jessica gave a chapel message from 1 John 1:5, "God is light; in him there is no darkness at all." I will never forget how I felt when she stood up at the podium and told us that there is no crevice, no crook, no shadow, not even the tiniest sliver or crack of darkness under which we can hide any part of ourselves before God. There is no darkness in God and when we are in God, we are totally bare before him in the light. 

Every word of gossip I've spoken to a friend "in secret"- laid bare before him.  Every action that's been motivated by pride- bare. Every impure thought- bare. Every lazy hour- bare. Every glutinous indulgence- bare. Every envious glance- bare. Every eye roll- bare. Every lie- bare. Every shameful thing I've ever thought. Ever done. Every said. Bare. God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 

That's the heaviness I felt on Friday. The crushing weight of all my sins and the red hot embarrassment and shame I feel when I realize that I'm wearing them all, naked before him. 

But as hot as my shame burns on Friday, so cool is the peace and pure is the joy I know on Sunday. 

How can I say it better than this famous hymnic line: 

My sin- oh the bliss of this glorious thought!- 
my sin, not in part but the WHOLE,
was nailed to the cross 
and I bear it no more 
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord oh my soul!   

Through his death and resurrection, Christ has done away with my sin. And now what is the truth? That as I stand in the light of God's grace, I have no need for a crack or a crevice or a shadow. I stand in that light completely bare before God without any sin! I bear it no more.  

In God there is no crack
no crevice
no shadow 
no hiding place
beacuse in God, though Christ, 
there is no embarrassment
no shame
no guilt
no punishment
no sin.  

There is only forgiveness. 

I cannot point to the exact hour of my conversion, but live in the death and resurrection of Christ every single day. I have been made pure before God, and daily he continues to purify my as I learn what it means to live out the grace I have received. 

God is light and in him there is no darkness of all.  Praise the Lord! 


Walking Arie through his first Easter was a joy. We read him the Easter story for the first time and watched his expression move from one of somber concern with the crucifixion to one of great relief and happiness with the resurrection.  He even shouted "YAY!" at the end of one reading. 

He is risen! YAY! 
YAY indeed! 

We participated in traditional Easter celebratory activities. On Wednesday night our church had a special service in which we learned about the meaning of the Old Testament feasts and rituals and how Christ fulfilled them. At one point there was live goat on stage! In response Arie whispered to me repeatedly, "MAMA! HORSEY!!" I set him straight.

On Saturday we dyed Easter Eggs, which thrilled Arie to no end. I don't know if it's life post-orphanage or if it's just his personality, but he is continually overjoyed by new experiences! I wish you could have heard him during the egg dyeing process. He was all wide-eyed and giggles and squeals. 

Inspired by friends of ours, John and I led Arie to his chocolate Easter bunny by leaving a trail of jelly beans from his bed all the way down to his seat at the kitchen table. Originally the idea was to do this in the morning but due to our cat we would not leave jelly beans on the floor all night and due to me, there was no way I was getting up before Arie on a weekend morning. So post-nap it was! 

Warning if you are not Canadian I apologize for the bad word I'm about to type. In Canada we use this word more freely than we do here in the States! I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying it's true.

After we woke Arie up to discover the trail of jelly beans, I stepped backward over the beans and scattered the trail. And then I dropped a bunch. And missed the photo opportunity to capture him first discovering the beans. Which led me to mutter, "Oh shit!" 

Well I guess you shouldn't mutter words like that in front of kids who are still learning English because Arie definetely thought the jelly beans were called "oh shits" and he began picking them up exclaiming happily, "One oh shit!.... TWO oh shit!... etc." 

Don't worry we eventually got him straightened out. 

Keeping it real. 

Our last activity was an Easter Egg hunt, which rivaled the Easter Egg dyeing process in terms of sheer delight. For each on of the dozen plastic eggs he discovered, Arie shouted, "OH! MORE! OH BOY! OH WOW!!" 

We put two jelly beans in each one and by the end his mouth was so full he was drooling purple, blue, and pink. 

Through the weekend our little man has been fighting a head cold so I stayed home from church with him this morning, 

but we had an incredible afternoon with our good friends Kristin and Dominic. Actually our original plan was to get together with one more couple and their daughters, but the other family had a stomach bug going around their house so we had to cancel last minute. Being that the stomach-bug-hit family were hosting, we ended up being without meat and potatoes but we still had a great time! We enjoyed a simple meal of soup, salad, and a last minute apple crisp and hours of long conversations and dream-sharing. 

Arie spend most of the day sleeping and sitting on our couch so we ended the day with a short lake-side walk. 

Blessed Easter these last few hours. Revel in the bare naked light-filled purity Christ has given unto you. 

I'm spending the last few hours putting that beautiful light into my hair! Going bleach-white blond for the summer! Goodbye red hair! Wish me luck. Hopefully I can get my eyebrows to match too. 


PS: April Fool's on that last part. I'm a few hours early, but hey- couldn't resist. Night! 


Let us pray as parents for the fatherless

The prayer below is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today?  

Day 35- Easter
Today's prayer is a beautiful Orthodox prayer that parents are to pray for their children.  Since the orphans of Russia have no parent to pray for them, I ask that we join together to cover them with our voices. When I first read this prayer I was deeply moved and I thought to myself that no prayer I could ever write would capture our pleas on their behalf as much as this one. So I ask tonight that as we prepare for Maundy Thursday tomorrow- in commemoration of the Last Supper- and enter into these last days of lent, that we would simply prayer this prayer every day from now until Easter:


O God, our heavenly Father, Who lovest mankind, and art most merciful and compassionate,

Have mercy upon our children, Thy servants, Russia's orphans, for whom I humbly pray Thee, and commend them to Thy gracious protection. Be Thou, O God, their guide and guardian in all their endeavors; lead them in the path of Thy truth, and draw them near to Thee, that they may lead a godly and righteous life in Thy love and fear; doing Thy will in all matters. Give them grace that they may be temperate, industrious, diligent, devout and charitable. Defend them against the assaults of the enemy, and grant them wisdom and strength to resist all temptation and corruption of this life; and direct them in the way of salvation, for the merits of Thy Son, our Savior Jesus Christ.*



(*Original prayer includes the line, "and the intercessions of His Holy Mother and Thy blessed saints," which I excluded because the intercession of Mary and/or passed saints is not part of my tradition.)


A prayer for life, more abundantly

The prayer below is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today?  

Day 33
God loves life. He created life, he sustains life, and the ultimate promise he gives his followers is the gift of life, everlasting. As a Christian I want my heart to be conformed to God's. I want to love the things God loves and to hate the things God hates. God loves life and so I too, love life.

Today I want to pray for the babies, not yet born, who will become orphans.  It may be a controversial thing to say but I believe that if we are to love life as much as God loves life, we should hate the death of any baby, even those unborn babies who will go on to live in a Russian orphanage. Russian has one of the highest abortion rates in the world. Abortion has been used as a form of birth control in that country. When I think that our precious son could have been a faceless part of those statistics I feel both grieved and thankful.

Infant Arie. Without a family, for two years there was no one to cherish this photo. No one to put it in a frame or baby book.  But someone knew there was HOPE for him. Someone took this picture and a dozen more as he grew, with HOPE that there would be someone who wanted them, someday. Today that hope has been fulfilled by divine appointment and I treasure this earliest picture we have of our son, with deep gratitude and in awe of what God has done.
But of course it is not enough to call ourselves pro-life and then do nothing. Do I believe that it is better for a child to be born and then live in an institution than to be aborted? If you call yourself pro-life, do you?

My honest answer is yes but only marginally so. If I'm going to call myself pro-life I can't just say women shouldn't have abortions and then sit on my hands. I've got to say that I want that baby to be born and that I'm going to do something to make sure that she's taken care of once she is. Because loving life like God loves life means loving life, abundant. It means that we love to see life flourish- to see children and adults flourish with love, care, food, shelter, education, meaningful work, and opportunity. When I say that I'm pro-life I don't just mean that I'm pro-birth.  I mean I'm pro-lifelong flourishing in all the the ways that God intended. 

That's what Jesus' came to offer us, isn't it? Not just that our hearts would keep beating day, after day, after day, for all eternity. No, he came that we would have life and have it more abundantly.  This is my prayer tonight, for Russia's orphans:


Our Father,

Tonight we come with a request and a confession. We request in Jesus' name that you would protect the unborn children in Russia even when their futures seem so dire. Lord most of us cannot imagine the choice these mothers are faced with: to end a pregnancy or to institutionalize their newborns. It is an impossible choice and please give us compassion as we pray for them. But we know that you love life and with that in mind, we pray that these children will be born and given the opportunity to know life, to know love, and to know your grace.

We confess that we too often let our prayer stop there. But Lord we know it is not enough for us to pray that these children will be born. If we are so bold to ask their mothers to carry these babies to term and deliver them into this harsh world, we must also have the courage to alter our lives for them. We must be generous with our resources on their behalf. We must find ways to offer a helping hand. We must provide homes and families for these children. To each us of you will give a different calling but none of us are exempt from it. Forgive us for our shortcomings and give us wisdom and boldness to advocate for and offer ourselves to your precious children, orphaned in Russia. Show us what you would have us do.

Make us a people who are pro-abundant life, just like you.



A prayer for opportunity

The prayer below is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today?  

Day 32
Today I was thinking about all the incredible opportunity John and I enjoy.  From what kind of apple to buy at the grocery store to choosing a car to drive, a place to live, where to work and what to do for a living. We've had the change to go to college and seminary. We've been able to adopt. We continue to be rich in prospects. Today I want to pray for the older orphans in Russia who are aging out of the institutions. I want to pray for their opportunities.


Dear God,

Today we come before you thinking of Russia's orphans who are 16, 17, 18 years old. As they age out of the only lifestyles they have known, we pray that they will be given new opportunities to grow and thrive. We pray you will give them the wisdom to grab hold of these opportunities as they present themselves. Our hearts break to know that the majority of these young adults have turned to crime, drugs, prostitution and suicide in the past. God- give them a new story. Do away with those dire statistics and make a way for them to lead fulfilling lives that are pleasing to you. Give them hard working spirits, joyful attitudes, and abundant hope for the future.

Above all give them the opportunity to find a home in your Church where they will be embraced by the community they will so desperately miss, leaving their institutions. Through your Church, wrap your loving arms around them and carry them into the future.



How faint a word we hear of him

Last spring, on a particularly hard day in our adoption journey, John and I drove out to Lake Michigan and ate dinner in the car, staring out the windshield. We stared at the beach and the waves and the endless expanse of water because sometimes when you feel like your world is out of your control, you need to put yourself before the face of something majestic. You do it to remember how big is your God and how truly small you are. 

It is always amazing to me how staring at the sea fixes nothing about our problems and yet somehow still makes everything right. 

It's the same thing that moved Job to repentance after he questioned God, in the face of his family's death and the loss of his riches. 

When we ask God why?? he doesn't usually answer because. Instead, he turns the tables and questions our very questioning: 

Yesterday evening John and I went back to Lake Michigan, this time with our son. It's spring again, but much colder than before. We walked upon the thawing shoreline where the proud waves halt and stared at the frozen cold surface of the deep. 

It was Arie's first time to the beach and he gasped when he first saw it. As we all should- shouldn't we? Gasp and marvel at the vast expanse and ponder in our hearts the incredible truth that these are but the outer fringe of his works! 

As we stared last spring and stare now again into the deep, all our questions and anxieties about the future are quieted. Yet even as we marvel at his majestic works, how faint the whisper we hear of him! 

As I watch my son walk upon sandy soil for the very first time in his life, I am humbled. He starts slowly at first, looking at us with questioning eyes and then down at his feet again, nudging the sand with his boot covered toes. 

With our encouragement he takes one step and then another until he is running. He giggles breathlessly, endlessly. 

We swing. 

We walk closer to the shore. 

He stares into the sea with genuine, unadulterated awe. I do the same as I look at him. 

In these pure moments, I think to myself the same thought I clung to in my darkest hours: that God can do all things and no purpose of his can be thwarted. Whether we succeed or fail, win or loose, live or die: nothing will rob God of his glory. 


The prayer below is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today?

Day 31

Dear God, 

Nothing will rob you of your glory. No purpose of yours can be thwarted. As we look into the faces of Russia's orphans, we take comfort in this truth.  As we pray for food and water, health and comfort, love and safety, we also pray: use them. Use us and use them for your glory, Lord. Use each precious life in Russia as well as our own to accomplish your purposes and give you the glory due your name. 

Yours is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, 



A prayer for Russia's orphans with special needs

This post is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today?

Day 31

On this National Down Syndrome Awareness Day, we remember all children with special needs. The agency we worked with had a wonderful special needs program in Russia and before the adoption ban we watched many families bring home little ones with that magic extra chromosome.  While the adoption of any orphan is amazing, the adoption of a child with special needs is especially beautiful because we know how drastically their futures change when they move from a life long institutionalization to a bright future in a family. I praise God for families who take this leap of faith and bring these little ones home!


Dear God,

Today we pray for the acceptance of orphans with special needs in Russia. We know that in that country children with special needs are slowly being accepted as valuable members of society, but the change is still so far from the mark of full inclusion. To be orphaned and to be struggling with a health condition or special needs diagnosis is a very vulnerable and dire place to be as a child.

We pray that you would work in that society to encourage love and acceptance of all children. Whether their diagnoses are invisible or visible, we pray that they would be shown love.

We also pray that you would make good health care, therapies, and evaluations available to these children. Protect these weakest members of society from abuse and neglect.

God, when we think about the effects of the adoption ban we especially remember these orphans with special needs. They are most in need of adoption as their futures in psychiatric hospitals are so dim. Please make a way for them to be adopted and brought into the families they so desperately need.



A prayer for touch

This post is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today?

Day 30 

This thought will probably diminish with time, but often when I am kissing Arie's cheeks or ticking his belly after bath or massaging baby lotion into his skin while he giggles, I wonder did anyone do this for you before? Did anyone show him a mother's touch?

When he gets a "boo boo" and comes to me to kiss it, he will show me that he wants me to blow on it. I'm sure this is because his nannies didn't kiss his "boo boos." They probably blew on the "injured" site to avoid all the germs they would be exposed to, especially in winter, but still it makes me sad to know he didn't have his boo boos kissed.

Today's prayer is simply for touch. That the waiting children in Russia would know what it feels like to have their hair stroked before bed. That they would have someone's chest to lean on; someone's heartbeat to hear. That they would be kissed and cuddled with the kind of touch all children need to thrive.


Dear God,

In your perfect design, you gave us bodies. Wonderful, glorious bodies that love to be touched. What children need from their caregivers is touch- lots and lots of touch. Today we pray that you would work in the hearts of all the nannies and caregivers who work with Russia's orphans. Make them warm and compassionate. As much as possible, motivate them to touch the children. Move them to pick up babies and hold them close. Cup their hands around the face of a toddler as they whisper words of praise. Put their arms around school age children as they find their places at school and in the world. 

We pray that you would provide a way for baby homes and children's homes all over Russia to hire adequate numbers of caregivers so that the littlest orphans don't have to pine away in their cribs. Bring them someone to hold them close. 

Please provide warm, loving, and nurturing touch to each and every one of Russia's orphans.

In Jesus' name we present our requests to you,



It's not always the little/simple/small things

Six or so months ago I was sitting in an office chair at my dentist, trying to wrap my head around a really big number. I needed a root canal and we didn't have any dental insurance. Hello expense! My tooth is now fully repaired: tunneled out, filled in, and covered up with a fake. Although my wallet is a lot skinnier, there's- thankfully- still a little money in it. 

I must have seemed pretty terrified as I looked over the projected cost of the canal because the lady helping me was trying extra hard to break the news gently and with a bit of humor. A few times as she went through the dentist's plan of attack she said things like "this part isn't too expensive, but if you don't want it, it is something we can hold off on for now." As I replied, "Yes- let's wait for that part until my wallet recovers," she laughed and said, "It's the little things, right?!"

It's the little things, right?

Saving a couple hundred dollars here and there matters because it all adds up.

Gifts and graces are like that too, aren't they? When we savor the little gifts and graces throughout our days, they add up to a lifetime of small but beautiful things.

little things: chubby baby thighs and that sweet thumb in his mouth
little thing: stealing bites of cookie dough while baking
little things: party balloons :)
There's been a lot of talk about the little things lately. Take Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts on the New York Time's best seller list or the wild popularity of Kelle Hampton's Enjoying the Small Things blog, for example. I really enjoy this emphasis. When we purpose to enjoy the little things in our lives we cultivate a grateful way of living and who can have distain for something that makes us grateful people?

And yet.

And yet I get a little worried that on the pendulum between Big Things and Little Things, we've swung a bit too far.

As someone who just got done with a Big Thing (our adoption), I see it in myself. I find myself wanting to settle into a life where I express my faith through five minute devotionals, gratitude for my daily cup of tea, 45 second prayers with my two-year-old before bed, and an hour of corporate worship on Sunday. It adds up to a staggering two hours each week. Four if I have a volunteer ministry related meeting that week. I have shameful thoughts like I'm really busy with my life right now, so I'll demonstrate my affection for God with these Little Things. I've already done my Big Thing, thankyouverymuch.

It's so unsatisfying though, isn't it? Not quite two years ago I went to a weekend women's retreat where we were challenged to give more of our time, energy, and lives to God (an excellent challenge) and I was astonished to see how many Christian women were deeply dissatisfied with their lives. I will never forget it. I sat on the hard wooden floor of a large cabin with twenty or so other women, most about 10 years older than me, and watched them cry. With tears they talked about carpools and laundry and the trouble of having no time left for God. Fresh out of seminary without any kids I could not yet relate, but it scared and frustrated me. One older, wiser woman in our cabin responded with that magical combination of gentleness and grace and told us- in better words I'm sure- that it's not really an option in life, having time for God, it's a necessity.

And really, I don't think it's even about having time for God as much as it is about having an entire life for God.

We should develop appreciation for the thousand gifts God gives us like the clean warm clothing we pull out of the dryer for our babies.We should enjoy the small things like a watercolor rainbow or the firm, pleasant stoke of a purring cat pushing up against our legs. But we've also got to nurture and feed our appetite for Big Things. The bold things. The lifestyle altering things. The life changing things.

While we're reading all these books and blogs with tips for everyday living, we've got to remember that in the book God left us, he doesn't give us examples of how to do Little Things for him as much as he gave us a book filled with poetry and prose about Big Things. It's a book about people who lived and breathed obedience. People who uprooted and followed him to new lands, who would rather be mulled to death- let alone leave the laundry unfolded- than stop praying to him, who risked their lives and sexuality to save thousands, who prophesied in a wholly wild and unsophisticated way, one who was crucified to save us, and one who spent years wasting in prison for the sake of the gospel. I can't help but speculate that none of these people would be impressed by the minutes I spend in devotion each day or by the small gratitude I feel for my cup of tea.

I want to be a grateful person. I want to be someone who lives with deep appreciation for every good gift that comes from above. What I don't want is to be someone who satiates her call to Big Things with Little Things.

It's a scary thing to want Big Things because people who say Yes to big things don't usually get to live the American dream and all the luxury it promises. They give up wealth in exchange for generosity. They devote their time to study and service instead of consuming hobbies. They loose prestige and gain humility. They count as loss all the things- all the possessions, power, and popularity- they once held dear. They might even be viewed as the scum of the earth for their faith, their decisions, and the way they live. But on the other side of the pendulum: they aren't struggling to find God between the carpool and the laundry either. From what I've noticed about them, they seem to have all of God because God is all they have.

My hands, probably like yours, are open and ready for the Little Things. I'm scared to keep them there, ready for God to call me to the Big Thing, but- in Christ- I want them to be open. Even if they tremble in the anticipation.

After all, it wasn't so long ago that I held my shaking hands open to receive a call to adoption. And now my open hands are holding my son's. In love. In Christ.


A prayer for LOOSE CHAINS

This post is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today?

Day 29

Today the Lord has put this passage from Isaiah 58 on my heart. While you read it, will you picture a Russian orphan in your mind? Maybe a baby standing in a crib, waiting endlessly to be picked up. Maybe a toddler or pre-schooler suffering from the flu, in an orphanage infirmary with no mama or papa to cuddle her. Maybe a school aged child who, at the end of the school day, watches as his friends get picked up by parents or grandparents and knows he's not going home to a family himself. Picture them.

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard
  Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I."

And now pray, simply: 

Dear God, 

Show us how to answer this call so that our light will break forth like the dawn. 



A few weeks ago someone asked on my facebook page if I would write a post about how we can help Russia's orphans if we are not called to adopt. This is an EXCELLENT request and I am going to be doing some research over the next few weeks in order to respond well to this question. My goal is to post it before the end of lent. 

Thank you for caring for Russia's orphans! 



A prayer of graditude

This post is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today?

Day 27
They say the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. In my own life, God has been entirely faithful in the past. He has walked me through the valleys of my mom's illness, my long-distance marriage, and the difficult season of expectation I endured while waiting to bring Arie home. You'd think that after all that faithfulness on God's behalf, I'd have a really strong faith that God will guide me into the future.

But I often don't. I often worry and despair. Too often.

My husband suggested tonight that I read Psalm 85, a psalm that remembers God's faithfulness in the past and looks forward to it in the future.  As I read, the first part of verse 12 stuck out to me: "The Lord will indeed give what is good." 

Tonight, let us find peace in the truth that God will give us what is good and let us ask him specifically for a good gift for Russia's orphans: families. 


Dear God, 

You are one who sets the lonely in families. We praise you for that! We look to all the orphaned children you've set into families and we praise your name. We see the love that they now know and we name you as a God who is able to do immeasurably more than we ask. There are thousands of examples of your great love, walking around us; thousands of children who were once fatherless and who are now your children. 

We ask first that you would become a spiritual father to every orphan in Russia. We ask second for the good gift of families for each child who waits. We do not despair even though this request seems so impossible. Instead, we pray with faith, knowing that you desire to give good gifts to your children. 

That every child would know you and that every child would find a family. We present our requests to you, in Jesus' name. 



A prayer for hope

This post is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today?

Day 26
After reading this Time article, comparing the Russian adoption ban with the decade old Romanian adoption ban, I am feeling discouraged and in need of a little hope. Today's prayer is for that.


Dear God,

It is so easy for us to loose hope, isn't it? When the future seems dim we want to close ourselves off from hope because we're so afraid of disappointment.

In times like these we need to be reminded of your power.

The scriptures tel us that you are light and that in you there is no darkness at all. So LORD, as we look into the dark future both for the Russian orphan and for the US/Russia adoption ban, we ask you to remind us the darkness will not overcome you. There is always hope in you.

Shine your light on this dark situation. Cast ever shadow of brokenness aside, we pray. Take care of these precious children and bring them into your eternal radiance.

For the hope we have in you and the bright, bright future we share, we thank you.



Prayer for orphans

This post is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today?

Day 25

Today's prayer comes from the Sisters in Jesus Christ, "a Public Association of the Faithful, based in Kansas City, Missouri,  serving there and sending sisters  to Vladivostok, Russia" (website). 

 A Prayer for Orphans 
Lord God,
Bless these children,
so hungry and hurting.
Bless their parents,
whether living or deceased.
Keep the hearts of the staff
full of love for these little ones.
Let these children be adopted
into loving homes.
Heal them from physical,
mental, and spiritual ailments.
Help keep their hearts
open to others
that they may learn to trust and love,
and open to You,
that when their life is done,
they may live with You in heaven
for all eternity.
 Angels of God,
Their Guardians Dear,
To whom God’s love commits them here
Ever this day, be at their side
To light and guard,
To rule and guide.


"Will you adopt again?"

I think Arie was home for just over one month when someone asked me this question for the first time.

"Will you adopt again?"

It didn't catch me off guard because I'd asked myself this question a lot. During the fundraising. After the home study. After the first trip. In the middle of our court trip. When Arie came home. A week after he came home. Two weeks. Three weeks. A month.

But asking a new mom if she wants to adopt again when the adoption is in progress or shortly completed, is sort of like asking a new mom if she wants more kids when she's in the middle of labor. Or those long, sleepless night with a colicky baby.

Theoretically she'll probably tell you yes, but it's also a lot to get her head around.

The process of adoption is hard. For us, the fundraising, home study, paperwork, and of course the travel was almost all-consuming. When we remember that very long year, it's hard to imagine doing it again.

But then of course, we think about our son...

...and the way he wakes up from his nap and waits for us to come and get him.  I think about the cautious look he wears when he sees me peeking in the door, wondering is it time to get up? Am I allowed to be awake? And the smile he wears when instead of it's nap time now I say, wakey wakey! Did you have a good nap? 

I think about that timid, obedient little boy we met at the orphanage and then I see our little Arie- still obedient, but walking around with a new swagger. And lounging on our furniture like he owns the place. Like he belongs here. Like this is his home at last.

I think about the little boy we knew in Moscow who rejected almost every food we gave him but scarfed down whole bananas in three or four bites, struggling to control something in his strange new life.  And now I watch with total delight as he digs his hands into the cookie dough to pull out as many chocolate chips as he can grasp. He eats them with a sly grin on his face and a sparkle in his eye and I think to myself that these are the simple gifts of belonging to a family. 

I remember holding him in July when we first met him and I remember the way his body flopped out and away from me. He'd been walking on his own two feet for so long, he didn't know how to be carried. Then I watch as he climbs onto the couch with his stretched out papa, imitating what he sees with endless giggles, and then falling into his father's chest.

I remember that endless paperwork. I remember the giant doses of stress. I remember the long flights. The home study. The fingerprinting. The being-on-a-first-name-basis at Fed-Ex. The feeling like it was too much and that it would never end.

And then I look at Arie and I think about how immensely blessed I am. Not just to be a mom at last, but to have been used by God to change a life. I think to myself that all my angst-filled questions about what I'm going to do with my life have been laid to rest because I feel like I've done something. I can't imagine anything greater in life than to receive a divine calling and to answer it.

I was really hard but it was worth it.

When I think about that, I think that yes I'd like to adopt again, if God calls us. And honestly? I'm praying he does.



Today's lenten prayer is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today?

Day 24

Dear God,

Today we pray for all the men, women, and families who you will call to adopt Russian children. First, we thank you for putting this call on their hearts. Though it may seem like a burden at first, we know it will turn to joy. We also pray that during the difficult times, you will sustain them. Give them certainty about their callings. Give them peace as they endure uncertainties. Give them wisdom as they move forward. Give them joy as they say yes to you.

We ask these things in Jesus' name, who showed us how much you love your little ones.



PS: I shared this video on my facebook page but for those who aren't on facebook, I was showing Arie some video clips we took in Moscow to see how they jogged his memory (he loved them!) and I came across one clip of our car away from the orphanage. It quietly but so perfectly captures the paradoxical emotions of a gotcha day: happiest day for me and one of the scariest and most overwhelming for Arie. Very surreal to watch this almost four months later!

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