Monday, November 19, 2012

Struggling Through November

November is a hard month.  The signs of winter shrouding the sky with clouds of heaviness, the naked trees lacking fullness and signs of life, and the brevity of daylight remind me that we will soon bring another year to close.  Where did it go? What did I accomplish?  Was it meaningful?

The heaviness of this month is accompanied by our anniversary.  I know it should be a reason to celebrate, but again I question whether or not this year's journey glorified God and made and impact for his kingdom. Quantifying such a measurement can be daunting.  Man's measurement and God's are completely different.

Measuring worth and eternal impact plagues me in the month of November.  I know the Bible warns us not to do this.  In Isaiah 55:8-9 The Lord tells us:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

November is National Adoption/Orphan Awareness Month which brings an annual heartache I can't seem to shake.

I think I've always had a heart for the orphan, the downcast, the overlooked.  As a child, in the early 70's, my favorite companion was a black, Madame Alexander Pussycat baby doll.  She was loved to the point of her hair being rubbed off, eyelashes lost and dress soiled.  She still holds a special place in my heart and is stashed away as a treasured keepsake.  This may not seem like a big deal to anyone in 2012, but in 1970 the image of a white/light brown skinned girl carrying around a black baby doll was a big deal.

My favorite childhood story was The Little Matchgirl.  It's actually quite a depressing account, but I read it repeatedly hoping to discover a revised ending where someone noticed the little girl, cared for her thus allowing her to survive the snow and cold. It never happened.  At the end she still died unnoticed, lonely and I think, heartbroken.

It still brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.  Time to grab a tissue!

Early in our marriage we struggled with infertility.  I had a number of friends, at the time, who were adopting and I thought, given my heart for the orphan, perhaps this was God's plan for us.  It all seemed to make sense.  I gathered adoption packets and began praying with friends for a child.

After a great deal of prayer and discussion, we opted to try IVF and conceived our first son.  After one failed attempt, a few years later we tried again and conceived our second son.  Just over a year later we received the surprise of our life when we learned I was pregnant with our daughter (the old fashioned way).

After three kids, I think my husband's quiver was full.  Mine wasn't.

As the years went on, my passion for the orphan/fatherless did not subside.  All around us friends were hearing the call from God to increase their families by reaching out to the fatherless and providing a loving home to kids at risk.  I thought God was pressing my heart in the same way.  The kids and I began praying for God to open the doors if it was his will.  As I looked at scripture, the call to take care of the orphan was so evident.  There was no way I could justify living our comfortable life and ignoring the less fortunate.  We had the love, the room, the money and most importantly the COMMAND,
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." James 1:27 (NIV)
"Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world." James 1:26-27 (The Message)
"Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world." James 1;27 (ESV)

I began meeting with a friend weekly praying for an orphan ministry.  We were willingly to do whatever to help adopting families and kids around the globe to find their forever family.  My girlfriend's family had already adopted a boy from the Philippines and she had a heart for African missions.  God was moving and shaking in her family.  Over the years she's traveled many times with her family to Africa, helped orphans, set up AWANA programs in desperate communities and currently has a daughter serving in Tanzania.

Another friend who also was pressed to care for the orphan quit her successful radio program and followed God all the way to China.  Prior to moving to China her family adopted two "special needs" (really minor issues) children from China. Sensing a greater faith calling they sold their belongings, packed up their five children and moved to China.  While living in China, they've adopted two more kids. What a blessing!  All of her adopted children had what were considered "special needs," but the needs were minimal, often just cosmetic.  They really just needed a family to love on them!

Another friend adopted a little girl from China and soon thereafter felt God's hand leading them to adopt a boy.  These kids are BLESSED!  What an amazing family!

I can go on and on with amazing life-changing adoption stories around us. Abandoned children plucked from certain death or terrible lives, but now they're in loving families, really experiencing Christ's love for the unlovable, and knowing first hand what it's like to be saved.  How much better can they relate to The Savior?

I'm not trying to compare life to life and the Lord's calling on one's life to another. Focusing on others and comparing lives/callings can steal joy and make this life feel insignificant.  I have the life I have and desire Christ to be glorified through it.

Years of praying has never resulted in any recognizable orphan ministry.  Around me I've seen amazing growth among families and hearts welling over with gratitude and love, but regarding an orphan ministry/adoption, I hear crickets.  Don't get me wrong.  We are fully blessed in the kid department with our three.  I'm not trying to fill a void.  I'm just desiring to be used by God to bless a little one.

Perhaps I heard wrong.  I often take God's Word at face value.  He says it, I want to do it!  I've tried to justify,  "Maybe the command and Promise I thought I sensed was for my littles."  Maybe the seeds of compassion we're planting now will encourage our three to care for the orphan(s).  I don't know.  With every passing year, I'm that much closer to the door closing on this dream and it breaks my heart.

November reminds me how much I desire to follow my heart, but am at a constant roadblock.  I just read this quote this morning from Teddy Roosevelt and it spoke to my heart.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
I want to spend my life in a worthy cause daring greatly and striving valiantly!  If I fail, at least, with God's blessing, I tried. My prayer this month and for 2013 is for a door to open.


Kimber Ryan said...

Just this morning during my prayer time you came to mind on this very topic. I so, so love your heart precious friend and I know Abba Father does too. We will not waiver in our prayers will we? 4I love you to pieces!!!

Kimber Ryan said...

These very precious times we shared and your heart were pressed on me during my prayer time this morning. I adore your heart and I know Abba Father does too! We will not waiver in our prayers will we? LOVE you to pieces!!!