Saturday, February 21, 2015

GoFund Us - SE Asia


"We weren't going to do this. GoFundMe wasn't part of our plan. But then I watched this video again and said, "screw it."

We've been invited to SE Asia to volunteer with our favorite anti-trafficking org The Exodus Road! Click here for the video and our time-sensitive fundraising campaign!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

the doing of true love


My little guy loves to decorate for holidays. Our usual ritual is buying one new decoration per year per holiday because, let's be honest, Target is a vixen and my weapons are useless against her. My family needs to eat and have things like electricity and running water so one decoration it is. But that's not the story for me this week leading up to Valentine's Day. The story is my little guy opening up the storage box with a big V on the lid and beginning his oooooh's and aaaaah's as he hangs heart-shaped things in all the "wrong" places which gives me ample opportunity to practice letting it go, letting it go. The story is the one decoration he needed help hanging. The one we made a couple years ago out of cardboard and printed out maps strung together with twine. The one with the four heart-shaped maps of Tempe and one of Congo.


Mom, tell me about that map.

My heart breaks because I'm not sure what to say. The sinking catches me off guard. Our adoption that once carried words like "your brother or sister" is now held loosely by open hands, palms up, looking for next steps and carrying words like "first families" and "staying together". Even though my heart aches for our dream not yet realized, the greater ache is for every mama who truly loves her babies and wants to raise them herself but feels like she has no other choice but to surrender them to an orphanage, or worse, to a trafficker. 

I believe I had to be given a mama's heart to fully understand another's. I had to stand in that space where my heart wanted nothing more than to expand enough to love another's babe as my own so that I could see her, every her, as a sister and want nothing more than for her to have a chance to love her own babe as her own. The commission is to care for the orphan AND the widow, the single mama. Because if the widow, the woman who lost her husband to HIV/AIDS, the woman whose husband left her because she had been raped and was now considered untouchable, the woman who was never allowed an education because of her gender, the woman who has great ideas but can't afford to feed her children much less start a business, if she has a chance then there is a chance her child won't become an orphan.

What if our "heart for the orphan" is just a little backward? What if our hearts were for the widow which could prevent the orphan? We are still such advocates for adoption. We still hope adoption is part of our story. We know there are so many babes, young and older, who desperately need a family. However, we will not build our own family at the expense of another's. There are so many children who legitimately need a loving family and there are so many loving families who legitimately need a chance to keep their children.

This is why we love the work being done by our friends at The Abide Family Center.  Partnering with local orphanages and government agencies on the ground in Jinja, Uganda, Abide is a resource for families on the verge of collapse. Families, usually single mamas, who show up of the doorstep of an orphanage ready to leave their child out of sheer desperation, but who, when asked if they would choose to keep their child if they were able, say yes, are referred to Abide's program. Emergency housing, food, medical assistance, case management, small business education, parenting classes, early childhood development, pastoral care and family sponsorship mark their alternative care model employing national staff driven toward the goal of keeping families together and keeping children out of orphanages. Abide inspires a broader spectrum of orphan care and an audacious belief that we can prevent the need for adoption one family at a time.

image via www.abidefamilycenter.org


So, this week as I print out Minecraft-themed Valentine's for my little guy's classmates and resist the urge to rearrange his oddly placed decorations, I am thinking about that heart-shaped map of Congo and how we dream of seeing the work of orphan prevention and family preservation being done in the country we have grown to love. I am dreaming of Congolese mamas keeping their babies because love + opportunity = hope. I am sending Valentine love to Joan and her babes, the family we are sponsoring toward resettlement with our monthly sponsorship donation to Abide.

Want Valentine's Day to be about more than just candy and stressful Pinterest DIYs? Want to bring your kiddos along in supporting another family in great LOVE while keeping kiddos with their parents and out of orphanages? Consider giving a piece of your heart to The Abide Family Center and the work of orphan prevention this week! Feeling crazy? Sponsor a family while they work toward resettling back into their community! Helping to keep a child with their family is just as life-changing as welcoming them into our own. 





Join us in
the doing of true love 
this Valentine's Day! 

Monday, February 09, 2015

28 Days of Play

youplustwoparenting

"Playing with my kids still feels new. Like when you finally find yourself in a healthy relationship and you have the lightbulb epiphany, “Oh! So this is what it’s supposed to be like!” At nine and six I am just now joining their lives in a new way every time we throw the football around in the front yard, practice gymnastics on the trampoline, write names of foreign countries in sidewalk chalk for a serious game of Around the World, build Legos, play board games and toss the Frisbee in the parking lot during swim practice. I used to think it was because my girl and boy are finally out of the Fisher-Price stage and finally wanting to do things I actually find to be fun. While this is so very true, those damn Polly Pockets and annoying Tow Mater were almost the death of me, it’s not the real reason. The truth is, I’m the one finally ready to play."

Catch the rest of my piece Messy Truths About Play over at You Plus Two Parenting today! 


Friday, February 06, 2015

milk & honey...and champagne


God is so freaking faithful.

The dreams He plants in our hearts, those whispers of art-work He weaves throughout every fiber of our being demanding our attention and costing us our souls, every breath of life filling our lungs with hope and beauty and belief ---> it all shouts of great LOVE.

Man, does He love us!

He loves us enough to say "No" over and over and over again, to allow us to experience  hardship and loss and to grow and become. He loves us so much that He asks us to trust Him with everything, even when it seems absolutely crazy.

And then there is a moment where He full on goes BOOM and drops the mic.

After a looooooooong wandering, we are finally celebrating some serious answered prayer. God is flinging open gates we've been knocking on for so long. He is declaring words our ears desperately needed to hear. He is making good on all the arrows that have pointed the way.

This way. Keep going.

We're sorta out of practice over here when it comes to celebration. We're like awkward junior high students at our first dance all gangly stumbling through the motions we've seen in movies featuring cool teenagers with smooth moves. Like the boy who takes the ultimate social risk of asking the prettiest girl to dance, so afraid she'll say no, so afraid he'll look like an idiot, so afraid all his friends will laugh if he gets rejected...but then she says yes and he stands there in shock not knowing what to do next! Yes?!?! Really?!?!She said YES!!! We've become pretty good at fielding the hard stuff. We've had tons of practice with tears of sorrow. So when the floodgates open and the tears released are of joy instead, we're not really sure what to do next except hold onto each other just as tight.

That and pop a cork of bubbly. Life demands champagne, my friends.

There's this funny tendency we have, especially within the Church. Can we just chat about this for a minute? We're taught humility and obscurity paired with transparency and authenticity. We praise each other for sharing the hard stuff in life. For "keeping it real". For acknowledging our "struggles" and allowing others to "walk alongside us" in our pain. All good things. All measures of honest relationship and maturity. However, we find it so much more difficult to allow ourselves and others to share the good stuff without worrying about seeming vain. There is this tendency to downplay the good, to justify or self-deprecate. We wouldn't want to make anyone jealous. We wouldn't want to seem anything less than humble.

But here's the trap.

God is so much more than the One who gets us through the hard stuff. He is more than just the manna while we wander around in circles in the desert with nametags that read HELLO My Name is Israel. He is also the One who ushers us into the land of milk and honey. He is the One who created us ahead of time for beautiful work. Now AND not yet. Here AND forever. So for us to only speak of the hard things, for us to only put Him on display when life sucks, is a gross misrepresentation of His whole truth, His whole love. It's an incomplete picture of His very nature.

Friends. When life is good, CELEBRATE for crying out loud! Post your vacation photos without fear of being judged as a braggart. Shout that promotion from the mountain top! Flex that hard earned muscle you've fought all the lies to build! Tell every single living soul just how perfect your healthy newborn baby is! Soak up every last drop of that goodness and pour it out all over the place. Paint your world with that kind of beauty so that those who are limping through their days may be reminded of what is good and true and right. Hold up your little spark of a torch to light the path ahead. This way. Keep going.

AND.

Friends. When life is hard, CELEBRATE the tremendous feat of keeping your head above water, of merely surviving. Share your burdens. Share the real life, the becoming.  Practice a posture of gratitude for sustaining hope. Press into tight spaces and allow yourself to mourn, to feel disappointment, grief, doubt. Receive grace and faith and put one foot in front of the other knowing knowing knowing the sun always rises and seasons always change. Eventually. Practice celebrating the tiniest things so that you don't forget, so that you always remember the beauty of simplicity.

The sun shines on us all and the rain falls on us all. If we only share God's work on one side or the other we are a false representation not showing the fullness of who He is and the magnitude of His great love for us. We must lend each other all of the good so that we can help each other shoulder the bad. When we are involved in hard work we must practice celebration and feast upon the light so that we can spark fires in dark corners and hold torches along dimly lit paths.

This week we are toasting the turning of tides. More like tidal waves. All the waiting, all the wandering... Our hearts for the trafficked are finally being given the perfect place to reach beyond awareness and into overseas investigations of predators and pedophiles assisting local law enforcement agencies in the prosecution and the shutting down of brothels who sell children for sex. The Exodus Road is one of our favorite organizations and we are so amped to be a part of the good work being done. As we dust off our passports and look forward to this next adventure we are practicing the art of celebration and a posture of gratitude while we shout from the freaking rooftops of just how worthy God is to be trusted to do exactly what He tells you He is going to do.


Trust yourself to hear His voice even if someone else doubts. Trust His definition of "good" to be better than yours. Trust that He is real and actually cares about you and your life. I dare you to trust Him with everything and just watch what happens.

I also dare you to keep a bottle of bubbly on hand in your fridge and to actually pop the cork to celebrate the amazing and the minutia of this one wild and crazy life. Cheers!