Friday, December 30, 2011

New Life

It’s almost the New Year and I it is a time when a lot of people reflect on their lives, the good and the bad, especially of the last year, and think about their hopes and dreams for the new one.  One of my favorite Bible verses is 2 Corinthians 5:17: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
God is in the business of creating new life.
As I was reflecting on this I couldn’t help but think of two families in my life. One is a family with a vivacious 9 year old girl who is in the hospital and she awaits a new liver. She has dealt with more illness in her short life than most people I know. Her family is torn between the hospital and their home about 2 hours away…just waiting. Shelby is too sick to be at home now, so they are keeping her as healthy as possible and praying that the new liver will come soon. She awaits this new life of feeling like a healthy person without all of the limitations she has had. She awaits being able to run around with her friends and attend her school again. She waits to be home with her family and live in the “norm” (which by the way many of us complain about, you know chores to do, jobs and school, fighting children, etc.). Her family wishes the same. They wait for what this new life will be like with a healthier child. They wait to be reunited again under one roof. They wait for the “normalcy” of life with sibling spats and homework projects. They wait to live without the fear and stress that it has brought them to wait for this liver. It will be a new life.
Then I think of another family, they too wait, but for something different. They wait for their little boy Brody who they hope to bring home from Ukraine. He is a precious little boy who has lived a life with a lot of loss and because of his HIV + status has waited for a family that would say “yes” to him. I’ve wrote about him several times in this blog. He awaits this new life with a family (one he doesn’t even know is coming). He awaits having a mommy and daddy to tuck him in at night. Little does he know but his new life will also include two little brothers to explore the world with and skyping with his best buddy from the orphanage who has found his forever family (the thought of the two of them reunited by skype brings tears to my eyes!). His family awaits for this new family member to make complete what has been missing. This family awaits to shower this little boy with the love that they overflowing from their beings. It will be a new life.
Christ has promised all of us a new life in him. A new life that lets us shed the pain of the past and walk into the glorious light of a new life.
Advent is a season of waiting and I know that we are in Christmas tide where we acknowledge the fulfillment of God’s promises. Well this new life is a little of both. We are awaiting the new life that will come but it IS coming. We may not know what that looks like. Most likely it is far beyond what we can dream.  I know last year at this time there were several painful things happening in my life. There were many losses on so many levels.  This year God has brought myself and our family to new life in more than one way. The joy we have experienced this year, even that which was intermingled with heartache, was breathtaking.
It is my prayer that you step into the new life that Christ offers you this New Year, allowing God to not only do new things but also to transform the pain and hurt of the past into something beautiful.
In the meantime I ask that you keep the Martin and Sadler families in your prayers as they await the fulfillment of their hopes for new life.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Seeing From Another Perspective

It is a time of the year where we focus a lot on Mary. We think about Mary’s journey while pregnant, we think about Mary’s birth NOT in a birthing suite with all the amenities, we think about Mary wrapping Jesus in swaddling clothes, we think about Mary taking in all of what happened on that night and “pondering these things in her heart.” But I find myself thinking about Joseph. We don’t know a lot from the Scriptures about what Joseph said or what all he did. How did Joseph feel about the birth of what he would raise as “his son” but who was not his by blood?
In July, we had our foster son placed in our arms; it is a moment I will not forget. We have had 3 of our biological children placed in our arms before that. Can I tell you that the same OVERWHELMING sense of love, joy and awe of God’s creation came over us!
I keep finding myself completely overcome with emotion as I think about this precious baby that was placed in our care. It keeps bringing back an image of Joseph, who I believe, held Jesus for the first time and stared with wonder at this beautiful baby. He, too, fell in love and in that moment accepted the responsibility to raise him and nurture him, “blood” or not. Yes, the birth of Christ is amazing in so many ways but one of those that we often don’t focus on is Joseph and his choice to jump in and “adopt” Jesus and raise him as his own.  We know that Joseph protected his young family and we know that he taught Jesus his trade as a carpenter. Both of these are signs of a parent living out their call.
So while I will be singing songs this Christmas about Mary and her baby boy or hearing the scripture that paints the scene of Mary and Jesus, I will be picturing Joseph beaming while holding Jesus and knowing the blessing of the lesson that Joseph taught us all if pay attention and see things from his exceptional perspective.

Here is Joseph’s Lullaby from Mercy Me….

Saturday, December 10, 2011

No Mangos

One thing that not everyone may know about foster care/foster parenting is that the children are able to receive WIC benefits. So for the first several months, “Z’s” formula was covered and now additionally his baby foods are covered (jars of fruits and veggies plus infant rice and oatmeal). There are so many things through this process that open our eyes to the ways of the various systems of our government. We have never been on food stamps before but there was a time that Craig lost his job and while seeking a more permanent job, we were without healthcare insurance and the kids and I received Medicaid. I became one of “those people” that people make judgmental statements about on facebook and out in public. You know, “lazy people, who won’t get off their butts and work and want the rest of us to take care of them” kind of comments. Well my husband was working full time. I was working part time as a pastor (which talk to any pastor and there really isn’t such a thing) and going to school full time (and raising 3 kids) yes, definitely the picture of laziness (insert sarcastic snort). The ways in which we were treated in doctor’s offices changed. Then of course, if people heard our story they would say, “Oh, but you are the exception; most of “them” take advantage of the system.” Now let me be clear, there are people who take advantage of “the system” AND the system is not perfect but still, “those” people have stories and some you may be surprised to know. During that time, my eyes were opened.
So here we are in another situation, receiving these benefits for our foster child. Yes we receive looks, especially when they see our other children (after all why do we keep producing if we can’t afford them…oh sorry, my bitterness is coming out again, I digress…). Well there have been two incidents that have stood out to me. First a couple of months ago, we went to buy formula and found that the price of formula had gone up so our WIC coupon that should cover 4 cans of formula, only covered 3. There was only a few cents difference, but we were not allowed to pay it; it either had to cover the whole amount or you receive less. Now for our family, we could afford to buy the other can of formula, however, for so many, that (expensive!!) can of formula may have had to stay on the shelf.  I imagine there were babies that had less bottles offered or more diluted ones, so their families could stretch their last can of formula until the next set of coupons went into effect. Now today, we went to buy little “Z” some baby food. We are really branching out as he has tried other things and I think his tummy is finally getting the hang of eating J. We are allowed to pick out jars of Gerber or Beach Nut baby food. HOWEVER, as we branched out today we learned, he cannot have Mangos. I researched more and found he can’t have guava or papaya either. I’m not sure why this is bothering me so much. I can definitely feed him some mango or papaya, etc. I used to make my own baby food for the other kids and am not doing this as much with him just because of being busier. But somehow, knowing that he cannot have a jar of fruit that costs the same as another jar of fruit BOTHERS me! It bothers me, that these “tropical” fruits are somehow too good for those who are needing assistance?? It bothers me not so much for “Z” but for others. It just seems like it is one more way that we separate the “haves” and the “have nots.”
During this Advent season while we are called to wait and hope. I pray for the day that we can have less separation between classes of people. That not only can everyone have mangos J but that all people could see each other through the eyes of God: as God’s beloved sons and daughters. May we all examine our hearts and seek to make them more in line with our Creator.