Friday, March 28, 2014

When Love Does Not Come Naturally. (A follow-up to "Healing in the Hurt")

I have had so many responses, likes, shares, comments and messages regarding my last post Healing in the Hurt. That post received 1000 views within in the first 24 hours and continues to grow daily. So many women and mothers from all walks of life sharing their hurt, their struggle with anxiety, anger and bitterness. So many women and mothers truly desiring to change their ways and walk in love. I often fall into the pit of being encouraged by someone or something one day then losing that encouragement and falling again into despair as that teaching drifts farther from my mind. Let us commit together to pursue becoming more and more devoted to DAILY putting on Love.

Let us become devoted to being thankful, peace-makers (Col. 3:15).
Let us become devoted to diving into God's Word daily (Col. 3:16).
Let us become devoted to doing all to the glory of God (Col. 3:17).

Scripture tells us we have already received all we need "pertaining to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3). We have been given the same faith but are in different phases of God's refining process, being made more and more like gold through our sufferings (1 Peter 1:6-7). God knows our weakness and that we will and may continue to struggle with showing love. We have to be taught to love. Jesus, through Paul, tells "older" women to teach and to "encourage the young women to love their husbands and their children" (Titus 2:4).

"There is NO fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is NOT perfected in love." 1 John 4:18
I would like to begin a daily devotional with you on our 5 Kids 6 Months Facebook Page. We will begin to look in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, stopping weekly on each word description, starting first with Love is Patient. Every day each week there will be Scripture references to study and look up what God says love is. I don't liken myself to an "older" woman but I feel led, after several requests, to write and encourage you and study with you. This will require and keep me accountable to staying in the Word! So that we can practice DAILY putting on love, let us examine what love is!
"Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary." Galatians 6:9

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Healing in the Hurt (Battling fear, anger and bitterness while parenting RAD)

The depression was overwhelming as I sat huddled in the corner of the shower. The hot water rolling down my face blending in with my tears. I was so tired of feeling nauseous. I was so tired of spending hours with my head resting on the toilet seat, staring at my own vomit. I was out of energy, out of love and had a weight of burden and guilt that seemed it would never be lifted. Anxiety had taken over.

 “Lord, what did I do? Is this not what you asked of me? WHY? Why is this so hard, why do I feel as if I am being punished?" No answer. I cried and cried during this bathroom ritual that had become a weekly event and lasted almost two years. Feel guilty, get nauseous, go to sleep, wake up at 2am, throw up, cry in the shower, try to sleep again at 4am. I worried this would be my story for the rest of my life. 

I knew this was what God called me to do. He called my husband and I to pursue and care for the orphan. I knew it was God’s plan. I chose willingly to become a foster parent, even jumped at the chance like an overzealous servant. I chose to have my home checked constantly by the state, to become a counselor and a help to the bio parents and to become a mom to hurting kids. But I didn’t choose the hurt that would be inflicted on me in the process. I didn’t choose the endless lies, the overwhelming theft or the cunning manipulation. I didn’t choose to have to have the sex talk with a 4 year old or to have to train a child to give affection appropriately. I didn’t choose the many police calls about vandalism, suicide threats and run aways. I didn’t choose the tremendous loss of friends, baby-sitters or family support. I didn’t choose the incessant chatter, the head-spinning questions or the rough language. I didn’t choose the verbal abuse, screaming and hitting yet the fake charm turned on around strangers. I didn’t choose the smell of urine everywhere, the daily hidden soiled underwear, or the mysterious poop smears. I didn’t choose the depression, anxiety, intense stress, guilt or anger. (Click here a blog post with a list of RAD symptoms)

Exhaustion took over my body, my mind and my spirit. I felt tired, worn down, and just plain defeated. My feelings were constantly rubbed raw from being betrayed and cursed by the ones I was trying so desperately to help heal. I needed healing. There was no break from the anger and bitterness that grew rapidly inside me. I confided in no one that I was overcome with anger and could not muster up that distant motherly feeling of love. I was stuck in this shell of an energy deficient body devoid of any love.

What was wrong with me that I couldn’t love these children that I prayed so long for and God, so generously, provided for me to care for.
“If I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2b-3
I felt like nothing. I felt empty. How do I stir up feelings of love from nothingness? Well, we all know we cannot create anything out of nothing. I prayed to feel love. It never came. But God did begin to teach me what true love was. True love is sacrificing all (your will, your desires, your time, your life) for others, not because they deserve it but, because God says to.


(Click here to go to our facebook page and read my Christian review of Disney's movie Frozen)

Love is not a feeling but a command to act.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34 
“This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.” 1 John 3:23

Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Romans 13:10

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8 and Proverbs 10:12 
But where does love come from. How can I turn from the angry, worn out, bitter mom I have become into the hugging, joyful, soft-spoken, smiling woman I wish I was? The answer is Jesus. Jesus has taken us in our anger, in our sin and loved us so much He sacrificed all for us. When we are washed in that love, mercy and grace we are renewed and begin to learn to imitate that love toward others.
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins…We love, because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:10, 19
“I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” Galatians 2:20 
“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.” John 15:9 
"Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2
So we know love is commanded of us. We have the example of perfect love in Jesus. What is missing? What are the steps to muster it up inside myself? Why doesn’t love just come easy for me? Why do I feel Paul’s very words, “I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate” (Romans 7:14-15).



I had become a Christian in 2009, my whole life, heart and attitude changed. But then in 2011 and 2012 these orphans brought on challenges and trials that tested me, time and time again I was failing. Failing to keep my joy, peace and love during the fire of their behaviors and words. I had faith, I knew Christ, but my faith had not yet been tested and was weak.
“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;” 1 Peter 1:6-7
I had to learn to submit to the beginning of this lifelong refining process (a process God promises will make my faith more precious than gold!) and focus my energy into “putting on love” (Col. 3:14) in all circumstances and sufferings. Jesus began revealing to me through His Word that before I can put on love, I must lay aside something. 
“But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him" Colossians 3:8-11
I began to meditate and memorize Scriptures that directed my path away from anger and bitterness. 
“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” Ephesians 4:29-32
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:3-8
Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.” Philippians 2:14-16
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:9, 17, 21, and 1 Thessalonians 5:15
Overtime I began to resolve to put off traits that God called evil. I resolved to not let them consume me and to fight DAILY (1 Cor. 15:31) to put on love. But how do I put on love? God gives us three clear steps:

1) "LET THE PEACE OF CHRIST RULE IN YOUR HEARTS, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be THANKFUL." Col. 3:15 (also see John 14:27 and 1 Thess. 5:18)

I wanted to obey the Scripture, “Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful” (John 14:27) but finding peace while a storm raged in my home and in my heart seemed hopeless. 
“I can do ALL things through Him who strengthens me. Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.” Philippians 4:13-14
"Consider it ALL joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4
As I learned and read Scripture I found that peace and joy can be and are cultivated in suffering, trials and affliction! I began to practice (and still do) giving thanks to God in everything, even the hardest times, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). “Lord, thank you for this child’s xyz behavior, I know this is the testing of my faith, please help me put you on display and show them grace and love in how I respond.”

 2) "LET THE WORD OF CHRIST RICHLY DWELL WITHIN YOU, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with THANKFULNESS in your hearts to God." Col. 3:16 (also see Rom. 10:17 and Eph. 5:19-20)


For the word of Christ to dwell within me I had to actively get it in there, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Through the gentle, yet firm, prodding of a wonderful woman that discipled me during this time of struggle I began to set aside time every morning to read and be alone with Jesus. Sometimes I would have to wake up at 5am to find any kind of peace or quiet in our, at the time, chaotic home. With lots of coffee ready I would read, study, pray or just sit quietly listening for God’s still, small voice. Some days was 5 minutes, some days an hour. I began to cherish and seek out that time whenever I could grab it. When I finally quit my job and stayed home full-time I joined a local Precept Bible Study at my church. It is quite a study that teaches and equips women to faithfully dive deep into God's Word!
“Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8
“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:13
Chore time became morning worship choir practice. I stream a playlist of free hymns from youtube in the mornings during daily jurisdictions. The more I studied and listened to the Word of God the more thankfulness and biblical teachings flowed freely out of my mouth when they were needed most, “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father” (Eph. 5:19-20).

3) "Whatever you do in word or deed, DO ALL IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, giving THANKS through Him to God the Father." Col. 3:17 (also see Col. 3:23 and 1 Cor. 10:31)

The last thing God did in me was to allow me to give control back over to Him. I was so worried and anxious with these escalating behaviors in my children that they would end up in jail, on drugs or pregnant. I, in fear, wanted to stomp out these behaviors in any way possible to keep them from future pain and consequences. I had taken control of the kids that were on loan from God into my own hands. Jesus owns all. Jesus determines the outcome of my children's hearts regardless of how I parent them. What God requires of me is not to change their behavior, but to glorify Him in my response to their behavior. I had to practice what I preached, “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). 
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” Colossians 3:23-25
Are you where I was? Are you struggling with anxiety, anger, guilt, bitterness, frustration? Struggling with your children, bio or adopted, normal or special needs? Struggling with your husband, your in laws, your parents, a friend?

Know first only God can change hearts so leave that department with Him, put it down, it is too burdensome for you to carry.

Second, did you notice in all three steps to putting on love there is thankfulness, “be THANKFUL,” “singing with THANKFULNESS in your hearts,” and “giving THANKS through Him to God the Father?” Start with this simple goal: to thank God throughout the day for EVERYTHING, even if you don’t see anything to be thankful for in it. “God, I want to be thankful, I don’t know what You are doing and don’t see an end to this trial, but I choose to say thank you.” (Click here for my Thanksgiving Poem)
 “Be anxious for nothing, but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
(Read this post: "Love Does Not Come Naturally" about daily devotionals to help you continue in your pursuit of putting on love!)


Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone 

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I Wasn't on the Adoption Train: A Husband’s View on Adoption.

I guess it is time for me to write on the husband’s perspective in the foster/adoptions that we have done. My heartfelt prayer is for you to first go to the Lord and ask Him to open your eyes and heart to what you are about to read.
 
Was I always on the adoption train with my wife?
No, there was so much to consider like finances, questions about whether we could conceive, what would the adopted child think, and was this truly "our" calling? Did I feel adoption was right….of course….at the right time. All that being said, I had to stop my compartmentalizing of the situation and search the scriptures to see what God says.


What is the husbands role and seeking wise counsel? 

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." (Eph 5:25)
"Got it" you say? What does that verse truly mean? Christ gave Himself up for the church….His life…the cup did not pass from Him….sacrifice. Jesus was also in prayer continually with the Father.

The final decision is the husband’s right?
"Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." (Eph 5:21)
Husbands are the head of the household, but what does that truly mean? That means the final responsibility falls on our shoulders in regards to all decisions. Does that entail being a dominant force with final say and everyone bows to your will? Absolutely not! First, ultimately we are managers or stewards of our household that will be responsible to Christ. Many times we can be easily swayed to look around us to others for a gauge as to how we are doing. But we have the manual of how we measure up in our management role in the Word of God.
"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord" (Josh 24:15b)
To clarify, Christ is head over you, next comes you, and then your wife. So you ultimately are responsible to Christ for decisions of your house. Do you contain all knowledge? No, only God does and that is why we are called to seek wise counsel and hearken to the wisdom of a godly woman (see Prov 31). So when that question arises or the thought of adopting/fostering, go to the Lord, seek wise counsel (your wife included), and then come to a decision. Remember, you should be able to point to Scripture in your decision so that you and your wife may be at peace.
 
  

But God made me more level-headed and she gets emotional…
Okay, but my wife gets emotional about orphans and I can’t jump every time she gets emotional about something…I would have 20 kids, 10 puppies, and many other "whims" in the house. Let’s return to God’s Word.
"The heart of her husband trusts in her, and he will have no lack of gain." (Prov 31:11)
 "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." (Prov 18:22
"Then the Lord God said, 'It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.'" (Gen 2:18).
The world tells us that women are on a totally different plane then men, but where the world says just cope with the difference…the Bible says God created the differences. God made Eve as a helper to Adam. Women are not a clone of men, but a compliment. We see the technical aspects and she sees the emotional aspects. We think in the black and white and she sees the color. She dreams it and we build it. Amazing how this works! She is better at child raising and we are great at providing. She has the heartache for the orphan and we have the ability to make it possible.

She is a sister in Christ that has just as much value to God. God may be reaching the "mother" with the call to adoption because He knows her heart is in tune with that call as the maternal one. Husbands, your wives are there to be a helper. God gave them to us for another perspective. As much as you might feel you would have the pangs of desiring a child, she does. Listen to her and then be the encourager, helpmate, and spiritual leader we are called to be.


But we have circumstances…

I know there are "what if" questions like….

How can we swing this financially? If one of you needed $5000 to live in 30 days, then you would find a way to cut costs or make it happen. The same with the orphan…is it important?

What if we wait for natural children, maybe we could foster/adopt later? Is that your decision without prayer and counsel?. If your wife has an impulse for a good thing (helping, adopting, serving, etc) maybe we should stop the "we will do it later" mentality and pray. Satan does not give warm-hearted, kind or sacrificial impulses. Don’t be like the followers of Jesus (Matthew 8:19-22) who gave circumstances as the excuses they could not follow Christ right then.

What about the questions from others? Honestly, stop worrying what others might say or think. We live in a world where children are viewed as a burden (opposite of what the Bible says). A world that flaunts the less children you have the more you can do (not the sacrificial life of the Bible). The Word says, "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward." (Ps 127:3).

The timing is wrong! I guess God made a mistake and gave your wife a heart for the orphan a few years early? Is He not sovereign? Does He not take care of even the lilies of the field?

We sponsor an overseas child, so we are doing our part. There is nothing wrong with sponsorship through one of the Christian organizations out there, but cutting a check (more likely auto drafting) $30 a month to "love" a child is not sacrificially, biblical love.

What about birth order or how they will effect or family? See our post on birth order here. As for the future effects on other children that is in the department of God's sovereignty and prayer. There are many other outside influences that also affect your children, but we are to walk with them instructing them in the Word of God and love. The Word also does not say "care for the orphan" only if the kids are gone (James 1:27). 


  


Trust me, I was that guy.

I even went so far as to think that maybe the foster kid would think that we only fostered because we didn’t have any kids of our own. Pretty detailed thinking, but again that is the way a guy thinks. We can spend our whole life with "what-ifs" and truly get nothing done for the kingdom of God.
"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice." (Prov 12:15)

So is adoption for everyone? Yes, everyone should be involved in adoption somewhere, somehow. The Scriptures do not say "Only certain people care for the orphan", but calls for ALL believers to. If God isn't calling your family to adopt then come alongside a family as a support, invest time, invest love, but sacrifice more than the price of a dinner. If you have the ability to foster or adopt then do it! 

Pray about it….together. Go to God's Word. And seek your wife's wise counsel. ;)


Posted by Brian
To God be the Glory!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Fostering Attachment and Love

In our home we have older children that struggled with Reactive Attachment Disorder symptoms and behaviors for some time. In just three years those same children are well-adjusted, attached, and loving members of our family. Someone asked me recently how that could be? How are they healed and just like normal attached kids? RAD is supposed to haunt them for life. Their past cannot be undone.

No, their past will forever be a part of who they are but the hurt can be undone. First with the help of the true Healer, Jesus Christ, and second with consistent modeling and practicing what love really is.

Love does NOT mean you will never get hurt. Unconditional love means you WILL get hurt but you love anyway!


Three things we know about foster kids from hard places:

  1. They have a difficult time trusting or attaching to adults in authoritative parental roles.
  2. They have a difficult time connecting with and understanding their emotions.
  3. They have a difficult time feeling, receiving, giving, or showing love.
As I said, foster children need consistent modeling and practicing what love really is. Due to what we know about them, that they have a difficult time trusting or attaching to adults in authoritative parental roles, even if we, as adults, are consistently modeling love it may not be accepted or trusted simply due to our role.

What now? How do we bypass #1 to begin kindling connections, correct emotions (#2) and love (#3)?

One of the biggest helps God laid on my heart was to continue to foster pets while fostering children. I was a foster parent to hundreds of furry little ones before my heart changed and bled for the hurting human foster children. Together with our children, over the past two years, we have fostered over 35 animals. We have fostered orphaned kitties and puppies, blind, mange-covered and skinny older dogs, and deathly sick cats. Fostering pets has lavished benefits on our family as our children were walking through the grief of their deepest hurts.


Four reasons why foster pets taught my children love better than I can:

  1. Attachments are created to happen with babies, while they are still cute and cuddly.
  2. Pets (Dogs specifically) can make known the hidden emotions of their owners and give them a voice.
  3. Teaches love without segregation, love outside the limits of species, breed, or color. 
  4. Death or adoption of a pet allows us, as parents, to walk with them through their loss. 

1. Attachments are created to happen with cute and cuddly babies.

Before kids, when I worked at an animal shelter, I remember seeing the old, quirky dogs and grumpy cats, filled with fear. I watched them as all with cute and cuddly puppies and kittens got adopted and these older pets were passed by. As a shelter worker these are the animals you spoil, take home on the weekends and hold lovingly, whispering that they are loved, when their time is up. What is it about newness and cuteness that draws a stranger's heart to fall in love. I have to tell you there is no redeeming qualities to a puppy or kitten other than they are SUPER cute! They pee everywhere and all the time, they chew and scratch and they don't listen but when they sleepily purr on your lap or lick your face you are helplessly smitten.

          

In foster children, empathy, nurture and affection can be kindled with cute babies in a way that cannot be displayed with us as adults. We are that old, quirky dog or grumpy cat waiting for love. We may be modeling and practicing love, wagging our tail and purring but there is just something that is sparked when cuteness is a factor. God designed babies to be cute for a reason!

Trials and hardships with pets, cleaning up messes or feeding and giving with no return on investment, can materialize what unconditional love truly means and looks like. It means loving even when time or money is lost and love is not reciprocated. Pointing out the child's unconditional love toward their pets can help them visualize our unconditional love for them despite their messes.

                                            

2a. Pets expose hidden emotions.

Authority in our lives is good (Romans 13:1-8). It holds us accountable and can be a huge help to us. When authorities put in place to care for us don't we are left hurt. Giving our children small roles of authority over furry helpless pets can open conversation about how wonderful God designed authority to be. God is our ultimate authority, always in perfect love, caring for us(Romans 9:19-21). Parents are the authority over their children, without anger, teaching and disciplining them (Ephesians 6:1-4). Humans are in authority over the animals, with good stewardship, caring for them (Genesis 1:26).

Foster children often struggle with control and lacking trust in their parental authorities. When in a relationship with a pet, the foster child can be in the controlling, authoritative role as the "parent". The foster child can control feedings, baths, training and affection. Please note, this role is guided by or taken over by the foster parent when the role is played with any anger or neglect. The foster child can be guided to be a calm and loving authority. Pointing out the child's success in fulfilling their role as a "foster parent" to this orphaned animal and explaining the appreciation this pet must have for them can rub off as the child's eyes and hearts are opened with appreciation toward their own foster parents. 

Dogs obey authorities (cats not so much). In a dog pack there will be one leader, the authority of the pack. This dog leader is always calm and assertive (as Cesar Millan would say). Dogs will not follow a sporadic, easily-angered, or fearful leader. A dog can often reflect the invisible emotions our kids have inside them. A mirror for their hearts. We can help our kids work out their emotions to practice a calm demeanor so they will enjoy their foster dog or puppy more.  

2b. Foster pets can give our foster kids a voice.

Kids who may not be able to put a labeled emotion on their feelings may be able to label the emotion of a foster pet. When the puppy is crying and howling the first new night in your home the child can label that the puppy is sad. We can develop conversation that relates to their own hidden emotions, "I bet you felt like this foster puppy the first night you came here, you felt sad right?" The conversation can escalate to reasoning behind those emotions. "The foster puppy is sad because he misses his mommy dog." "I bet you feel sad when you miss your mommy." Foster children can more easily verbalize what a foster pet may be feeling than their own emotions. Since the feeling are often mutual, they are essentially exposing their own emotions.


3. Love without boundaries.

When falling in love with a hurting and in need foster pet there is no segregation due to species, breed or color. We don't say, "You, little kitten, are not a human therefore I cannot love you." We love them fully, regardless of their difference of species. We don't say, "You, little puppy, are not my favorite breed of dog therefore I cannot love you." We love them fully, regardless of their breed. We don't say, "You, little bunny, are white and I only love spotted bunnies therefore I cannot love you." We love them fully, regardless of their color. Loving a cross-species pet can show that love crosses even the most difficult boundaries, that love knows no segregation (Galatians 3:28). We can show that just as their love can grow for a different species pet our love can grow for them regardless of their background, heritage or race differences. We see a need and we meet it, regardless of where they came from (James 1:27).

                                                

4. Foster pets allow loss and grief.

Death or adoption of a pet brings about a sort of planned loss and grief. A loss unlike their immediate, chaotic and tumultuous exit from their previous family. This type of loss allows understanding, processing and allows us to walk them through the stages of grief. This type of loss still hurts, sometimes deep, but to love unconditionally is to hurt. We don't refuse to help an injured foster pet for fear of death, we love and help them in their hurt even if death and loss is imminent. This type of controlled or planned loss can help bring back old losses and re-walk through that grief appropriately.

Adoption of a pet brings a good mix of grief and joy, a mix of loss and new life. Watching a once orphaned or hurting foster pet find an adoptive family makes real the joy and newness of adoption! It can also help a foster child sympathize with their foster parent if and when it comes time for the foster child to be reunited with their family. They can begin to see that the mix of sadness and joy can and sometimes do coexist.

Foster children with foster pets learn to love, lose and love again. Isn't that the cycle we want to culminate and grow in our children that are struggling to love after past loss and hurts?

 

The greatest thing about foster pets is they reflect God's perfect love for foster children and us.

If God loved these little furry creatures so much to send a rescue to them through children foster parents then how much more does God love these little helpless children to send a rescue to them through adult foster parents. (Matthew 10:29-31, Matthew 6:25-34)

In the same way, if God loved these little helpless children so much to send a rescue to them through adult foster parents then how much more does God love these adult, imperfect parents to send a rescue to them through His very own Son, Christ Jesus (Romans 5:6-8, Isaiah 40:26-31, John 3:16-18).

"We love, because He first loved us" - 1 John 4:19


Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

We "Messed Up" Birth Order But Not God's Sovereignty

When researching birth order and adoption I have found it to be a huge "No-No". Some adoption agencies and social workers will not approve you if you even consider disrupting your family's birth order. What is it about birth order that makes it "the unbreakable"?

We must be very careful when putting manmade philosophies about birth order above God's Word and Sovereignty. Is God not sovereign in adoption "birth order" and only in biological birth order? Is God surprised when we adopt an older child and "mess up" the birth order He established? Can God, being all-knowing, build our family's birth order with our future adoption(s) in mind?

We may have adopted out of age order but we adopted in the perfect "birth order" that God birthed our adopted family!


Israel was God's firstborn.

In the Old Testament God refers to Israel as His first born, "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son," (Exodus 4:22). Israel, as a firstborn, was to receive a double inheritance as outlined in the Jewish Law (Deut. 21:15-17). So God does put a higher stock in the oldest child, therefore we should NEVER ever adopt out of birth order, right? Wait....fast forward a few thousand years and Israel, God's firstborn, was one-upped by another Son. This Son came and became God's true firstborn. Did God really just "mess up" His own family "birth order"? Ruin family-ranking? Re-distribute inheritance? Yep.

Jesus bumped Israel out of their firstborn status.

How did newly displaced Jewish Israel respond when Jesus came on the scene and stole their firstborn birthright? (Romans 8:29Colossians 1:18). Some hated Him and plotted to kill Him and some believed in Him and became His disciples. The same way our displaced children will act, if a new child takes their firstborn position, their words and actions will allow their heart to become visible. Anger, bitterness, and malice will show a child that is struggling with putting their status in the family unit higher than their status with God. On the other hand, Love, compassion, and service will overflow from the heart of a child filled with a trust in God's ultimate sovereignty over the growth of their family. 

Could disrupting birth order make our parenting harder by uncovering heart issues and behaviors we would rather not deal with? Most likely. So are you opposed to adopting out of birth order due to comfort, convenience, superstition or God's Word?

Even disciples bickered about their "birth order".

Who would be greatest among them? Jesus sat his disciples down and explained that they were missing the bigger picture. They weren't to focus on their place in His family or kingdom but their focus was to be serving His children,
"“If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Taking a child, He set him before them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me, but Him who sent Me.” (Mark 9:33-37, also Matt 18:1-5, Luke 9:46-48)"
Let us not be consumed with worldly notions, putting ourselves in bonds of obeying birth order, neglecting our call to serve the least of these, so that we relate to the goats on Jesus' left (Matthew 25:31-46). Let us do as the sheep on Jesus' right and serve the least of these by meeting their need, regardless of their age. Let us have the pure religion that God accepts, religion undefiled by worldly philosophies and studies, let us just care for the orphan (James 1:27).


But birth order defines our personalities.

Birth order studies on personality differences are fun and are sometimes accurate stereotypes but let us not strip our children of God's unique fingerprint of individuality He created in each one of them in exchange for a natural view of "the almighty Birth Order made them this way." Even if birth order helps to define and shape our personalities, it certainly does not effect or define our relationship with God. If big brother Johnny gains a new big brother through adoption he will still be big brother Johnny, as God designed him. Now he will also have a new role as little brother Johnny, just as God planned before the foundations of the world. We are give a new status when we are adopted into the family of God. Given a status not as oldest, middle child or baby, but as equal heirs and firstborn with Christ.
"In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will (Ephesians 1:3-6)" 
"In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures (James 1:18)." 
"The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ (Romans 8:14-17)"
"Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God (Galatians 4:7)." 
"In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:10-12)" 
Little brother and big brother Johnny are both offered the same adoption, the same inheritance, the same free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8 and Romans 6:23).

God does not define us by our earthly labels but our heavenly one.

We need only to be labeled "adopted" or "child of God". Earthly labels of birth order, gender, race, heritage, or age are not counted by God for a heavenly inheritance. Why do we put any stock in earthly labels for our family inheritance?
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28)."
Once adopted we have a place with God as His son, as His people, even though we were once separated from Him. He doesn't hold one believer higher than the other, even if say the Jew "knew" God first (Romans 9:24-26). Followers of Jesus are not adopted in age order. God encourages us not to put stock in the age of His believers (1Timothy 4:12) or their strength (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Let us not put a greater pull on worldly philosophies of birth order than we do on the Spirit and will of the God of Adoption!


 Six other blog posts and articles about birth order:

1. Here is a worldly, evolutionary philosophy that shares why birth order matters:

"'We’re in a Darwinian struggle from the moment we’re born, fighting for scarce resources within a family – our parents’ time, love and affection,’ he says. 'Through human evolution, birth order has determined who inherits power (the first-born) and who is sent to war (the youngest as he was the ‘spare’). By Psychologies"

2. Birth order may not be the only link in determining our future personality:

"In short, it's not necessarily the fact that a child came out of his mother's womb first that he grew up to be a leader who talks a blue streak. Rather, it's the fact that his parents treated him as their firstborn child that shaped his attitude and behavior. By Parents

3. Birth order - Science or Myth?

"After reviewing 35 years of research -- some 1500 studies -- C├ęcile Ernst and Jules Angst of the University of Zurich reach a simple conclusion:
"On a scale of importance, the effects of birth order fall somewhere between negligible and nonexistent " (Science, December 1983, p. 16). By Biblical Discernment Ministries"

4. Lots of adopting out of birth order resources and links here:

"To find voices against adopting out of birth order, simply type that phrase in a search engine and many adoption forum discussions will pop up. It is a popular topic on many adoption forums, but I caution you to note how many are written by those who have experienced it. It is not for everyone or for every family. The needs and resources of all family members must be considered, but there are many families that have done it and done it well. By Creating a Family"

5. This is a personal blog post from a mom who has adopted out of birth order:  

"I know we made the right decision to adopt an older child, to disrupt birth order, and I’m seeing beauty rise up out of the ashes.  All three of my kids are being refined. Yucky stuff is sloughing off. Even during this painful spiritual exfoliation, I see moments to treasure. By Unexpected.org"

6. Where in the Bible does in address the issue of birth order?:

"To be truthful, the Bible does address birth order, especially as it relates to being the "firstborn". God certainly did not give us an exhaustive treatise on birth order and its affects (should be a warning right there of putting too much stock in birth order), but He did allow us to see the premium He put on inheritance and the firstborn. Click here for the rest of a fantastic article on firstborns"

Posted by Shannon
Soli Deo gloria - Glory to God alone