correspondence: we are what we keep

Our boxes are (mostly) unpacked and we (mostly) know where everything is here at the Lighthouse. We can even find obscure utensils in the kitchen. But up ‘til now we had plenty of frantic moments trying to find stuff – for example, when you’re on the phone and need to write down information and the only thing in sight that even remotely resembles a pen is a blue Nerf dart.

correspondence: we are waht we keep (copperlight wood)

Or when a child falls outside and comes in bleeding, and you can’t find the bandaids anywhere – not in the boxes, not in the cabinets or bathroom drawers, not on top of the fridge – until finally one of the boys confesses he has a stockpile of them in his closet, which turns out to be a good thing because in lieu of a real bandage I was this close to cleaning out the wound and slapping a feminine hygiene product on it.

Before we moved, I cleaned out all the neglected catch-all spots in the old house – those places that accumulate old papers and nostalgic items, the stuff we don’t know what to do with but aren’t sure we can throw away. And you may not believe this, but I was actually looking forward to the prospect of moving twice because it would force me to purge through these items more than once and really get them weeded out.

It was a brutal gift to be able to sift twice through things that had been shoved aside and buried, a forced priority that I knew would bring freedom once I put the work into it. And cleaning out the physical spaces dovetailed with cleaning out the heart spaces – What am I holding on to? Why am I holding on to it? Are my motives pure? It’s life-giving routine maintenance if we can bring ourselves to do it.

All the closet corners, neglected cabinets, and old boxes were examined. I went through art projects, physical records, old correspondence, concert tickets, birth announcements, photos, and obituaries. The Keep file was slim; the Burn pile fed the woodstove for several nights running.

Some of it was easy to get rid of. Some of it was emotionally hard to sort through. And some things I wanted to keep for the wrong reasons, but He reminded me Love keeps no record of wrongs and I didn’t need to pass a legacy of offense onto my children. So those were burned, too.

I was pretty ruthless about it. Newspaper clippings, letters, a high school friend’s obituary – most of it was prayerfully tossed. I didn’t even keep all my old notes from Vince.

One particular letter I kept, and I never even knew the person who wrote it.

Through an odd string of events, in college I became friends with an elderly woman who I met through a mutual friend at the airport, back when you were actually allowed to meet people as they got off the plane, and say goodbye when they left again. We must’ve been there to see off our friend, but I can’t remember the details. I do remember that afterward, she took me out to lunch. She listened to me talk about my struggle living as a flailing, failing, compromising Christian, living with my unsaved boyfriend. And she didn’t lecture me, she loved me.

She told me to pray for him. She told me, picking up the glass of water in front of her, that every time I took a drink, to pray that my boyfriend would be thirsty for Jesus. And that I would be thirsty for Jesus.

She must’ve known I wasn’t, but I wanted to be.

We exchanged phone numbers and caught up every few months or so. She sent me cards, and mentored and counseled me through my fledgling relationship with Jesus. A couple years later she came to our wedding, and mentored and counseled me through my fledgling marriage with that unsaved man. Then I got pregnant, and during that pregnancy the man came to know Jesus. And seventeen years ago when the baby was born, I sent her a birth announcement with our Christmas card.

The following March a letter arrived. The handwriting was unfamiliar, but I knew the last name.

Her husband wrote to tell us she had died in her sleep a month earlier. He wrote, Her death was as unexpected as it can be at our age. Our marriage was the best 30 years of my life and I miss her. We received your Christmas card. Congratulations on your new baby. He included a copied slip of her obituary.

I kept it, envelope and all. I knew her for less than five years, but she was one of a few women who poured into me when I had less than nothing to offer back and needed the investment desperately. She helped shape me.

I looked up her husband, thinking he must’ve died years ago. He did; it was shortly after we moved out to the Valley and his obituary said his memorial service was held at our church. We were so new here I’d had no idea.

At that same church a couple of weeks ago I got to help a friend teach a class on prayer. She had collected a bunch of books to give away to the students at the end of class, and after everyone had chosen one, one was left for me – a little green paperback about a Welsh missionary I’d barely heard of.

…the first thought that came to Rees was, Had he correspondence with God? Could he say the Saviour was as real to him as his mother? Did he know God as a daily Presence in his life, or did he only think of Him in the prayer meetings?

– Norman Grubb, Rees Howells Intercessor

I took it home, thumbed through it a little, and put it aside. The next morning I was drinking coffee with Vince and picked it up again. The inside of the front cover had an old bookplate with another friend’s name on it, which was a happy surprise. Houses or books, it’s a joy to live among things that have already been loved by people we love.

Then I noticed that there was another, smaller bookplate under that one. I held it up to the window to read through the page, and I recognized that name and address, too.

Before it belonged to me, or my friend, or the church library, or my other friend, it belonged to my mentor, Virginia.

And it turns out that since God played the nicest trick in the world on us and we’re not moving twice but instead we’re buying the Lighthouse (the story’s here in the newsletter if you missed it) we still had to purge twice. We cleaned everything out when we packed it up, and we combed through it again as we unpacked, before we even knew we were staying.

We’re holding on to the things that make a home – our books and projects, plants and pets, and each other. But if you come over and need a bandaid, well…

Just kidding. We’ve got those, too.

_____________

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in port

We knew the tether that held us to it was thinning when we started calling it “the old house” instead of “home.”

in port

We ate weird meals in attempt to clean out the fridge and freezer until we started sleeping at our new place. One day I served biscuits and gravy, which sounds normal except that the biscuits were actually English muffins and I served them with a side of lettuce (I mean, salad) and the last tablespoon of some balsamic dressing from the 1940s.

That night I wandered through the kitchen looking for dinner, but I’d already fed the kids all the leftovers, I didn’t want to cook, didn’t want to scramble up a couple of eggs, and didn’t want to eat the last of the stale bag of tortilla chips. So I took one for the team, and dove into the vanilla ice cream and topped it with cranberry syrup.

The walls were bare and our voices echoed. We touched up paint and trim, using a wood stain marker over every scratch we’ve made over the last ten years in attempt to conceal the fact that we’ve had enough children here to populate Gilligan’s Island.

The highest concentration of scratches was on the corner cabinet by the lazy Susan, where Sophie used to paw when we were slicing meat for sandwiches, cooking burgers, or carving the turkey. I cried covering them; her grave is in the woods over there, and I grieved over leaving it more than anything else.

I moved to the stairs and worked my way up that railing with the stain marker, covering pale spots where the wood was exposed, trying to make them blend and look new again. We put on a lot of miles here in ten years.

It’s a beautiful house, but it’s been loved and lived in, and we hope the new owners appreciate it – not just the work we did to prepare it for them, but that they appreciate the home that’s been made here and continue that legacy. I hope they know the wear and tear are from living life, and they will have many years of adding their own dings and scratches.

Iree said she hopes the people who bought the house have kids so the woods, trails, and clearings will still be played in, instead of growing over neglected. And I hope the owners of our new house – wherever that is – feel the same way.

I hope they’re being good stewards, cleaning up, touching up, praying for us. I hope they love their house and have similar mixed feelings about leaving it. I hope they’ll want us to love it there.

Maybe houses are like people: As children, those of us who have learned attachment early are able to attach in healthy ways later, and maybe a house that has been loved-in by one family is increasingly able to be loved-in by another family.

During our last week there I was mostly on an even keel, but at times out of nowhere the thought of not being in these walls made me all emotional. Overwhelmed. Leaky. After so much waiting and working to move, suddenly it was time and I wasn’t sure if I’d crossed everything off the list.

We get this way with life events and transitions. Am I ready? Did I do everything I was supposed to? Do we have everything we need?

I berated myself because it’s just walls, floors, and air, and I’m not sentimental. But it’s also memories, and more than that – it’s a milestone.

Because what we really mean when we ask all those questions is, Does this mean I passed the test?

This was the place we brought four kids home to. This was the place we learned to fight for healing in the midst of black brokenness. This is the place we got our war wounds, where we learned about friendly fire and mutiny, and about brotherhood and who we bury the body with. It’s where we learned that fear dreads the curveball, but faith knows God will catch it.

This was our battleground.

Just air, and space, and walls, and floors. But the Breath of God moved in this place.

The morning of the day we moved, I prepped dinner in the old kitchen so it would be easier to make in the new kitchen that night. As I chopped veggies, this song was on repeat and my eyes started welling and stinging, I swear it was the onions – and I threw the kitchen window open to 17 degrees and prayed it wouldn’t kill my aloe plant before we moved it to the new house.

We ran out of time to finish the puzzle and in disgust resorted to breaking it into chunks to pack in its original box. It was a sorry mess when I opened it again; the edges of every section had crumbled in the transfer and loose pieces that I’m certain had been fixed in place were everywhere.

This is ironic, I thought. You think you’re putting something together, and this is what happens.

But we’d already learned that starting over is not the same as going back to the beginning. Sometimes it moves the starting line forward. Sometimes it means the tether has snapped, and a gust of wind fills the sails to send you where you needed to go.

He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,

who despises the gain of oppressions,

who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe,

who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed

and shuts his eyes from looking on evil,

he will dwell on the heights;

his place of defense will be the fortresses of rocks;

his bread will be given him;

his water will be sure.

– Isaiah 33:15-16, ESV

And that is where we are right now. In between, if you missed the newsletter, we’re renting a beautiful place from a friend while we wait for the next direction.

We’re on a bluff and the views are incredible; we can see for miles and pray over the highway in both directions. Our kids have room, our books have shelves, and after three tries, we even figured out where to put the catbox.

It’s a lighthouse for us, a temporary refuge to recuperate and rehabilitate after so many years in choppy waters.

Know your own happiness. You want nothing but patience – or give it a more fascinating name, call it hope.

– Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

It’s not where we thought we’d be, not where we planned to be. We’re not sure how long we’ll be here.

And now that we’re looking back, we can see that that’s been the story of our last couple years. Except before, we thought we knew what we were doing, and now we know that we don’t…and we’re okay with that.

We’ve made port in safe harbor. He is the anchorage. We’ll rest until He moves us again.

starry night: when we find ourselves in unexpected territory

Not sure if it’s denial or just complete rebellion, but we broke out a 1000-piece puzzle to work on for Christmas, even though we’re moving in a few weeks.

And, friends, this is not your normal puzzle. No, no, this is Van Gogh’s Starry Night, a thousand pieces of beautiful insanity requiring a magnifying glass, good lighting, and (probably) an inordinate amount of sheer stubbornness.

So, I’m in.

starry night: when we find ourselves in unexpected territory

Up close, Starry Night has trillions of faint lines that look like bones – a tibia here, a broken fibula there – and the subtlest shades of color make the light seem to fall against blue-black darkness. It has scratchy marks you’d never notice until looking intently at a magnified thousandth of it. None of the pieces give any indication what the big picture looks like.

We’re making slow progress on it while procrastinating through more responsible moving and house-selling duties. The last time we worked on puzzles was when I was pregnant with Finnegan, and I could justify slowness and rest with the contractions of early labor and all the other discomfort of late pregnancy. And in a way, we’re right here again – we’ve been pregnant for months, bursting at the seams in this house we’re overflowing out of, and restless for this new season, new structure, new routines.

We’ve been in labor for this move for a long time. Years.

We thought we wouldn’t be here this year. Actually, two years ago we thought we were spending our last Christmas here, and last year we were absolutely certain we would be living somewhere else by now.

But we’re still here. It’s a “finally suddenly” feeling; it seems too fast after all the slow waiting, and I want to hold on to certain pieces while flinging others into oblivion. It all melds together though. Just like days, years, memories, brushstrokes – they refuse to sort cleanly; they bleed into each other.

We are hip-deep in selling the house – repairs, paperwork, phone calls, oh my – and since it’s December, we’re also up to our ears in gatherings and festivities. Texts about scheduling and signatures come in rapid fire, and my phone sounds like it’s dinging “Carol of the Bells” on just one note.

We strive for margin, and in our striving sometimes we lose more white space. We imagine life to look a certain way, and it violently veers an entirely different direction.

I need to stop for a minute, slow down, and put a few of these pieces together; get some perspective.

I turned 41 last week.

(This is a good time to mention that last summer, Chamberlain asked what scallops were – lines, not shellfish – and I told her they were sort of like waves, and pointed to a nearby wooden crate with scalloped edges as an example. “Oh, like those?” she asked. “Those are scallops?” She was pointing to the wrinkles on my forehead.)

I’m 41 now, and we’re moving, and none of this looks the way I thought it would. We have a back-up plan to rent from a generous friend, but we haven’t found the right house to purchase, we don’t know exactly where we’re going, and we’re not really sure what we’re doing.

I’m not really sure what God’s doing with us.

But I’ve been looking way too closely at one or two pieces of this, and they are only thousandths of the picture. I know He sees the whole picture. I know He has a thousand reasons for having us where we are. But not knowing what those reasons are, or where He is sending us, or what He is doing, is hard.

I told a friend that this not knowing is doing many of the same things to me that fasting does – it brings up the dross, the hard questions, and tests my willingness to receive hard answers.

It also tests my ability to trust Him for good answers.

He and I have been talking about it a lot (a lot) lately. I’ve asked Him over and over, and He keeps saying, It’s a surprise, Love.

I’ve mouthed off something about not liking surprises and He hasn’t stricken me down. I’m the one who finds presents early, shakes them and squeezes them, and hides them in new places just to be a stinker.

Sheer stubbornness. See, told you.

But the season feels off, unfamiliar – it’s not the way it’s supposed to be. It’s not what we envisioned. We don’t picture the cramped house, people overflowing out of bedrooms, the special needs that interrupt daily interaction and normal activities, and children losing years to poor choices and mental illness. I talked to a woman recently who is also struggling through this season, wanting life to be the way it is supposed to be, instead of revolving around her husband’s addiction.

It’s not the way it’s supposed to be, because we never envision the angry, distant family member, or the job loss, or the person who’s always been there but suddenly isn’t because death took them too early.

None of it is what we expected, dreamed of, or asked for.

He meets us in the mess we are in, whether the mess is from our own choices, or the choices of someone else, or because He has a surprise in store to teach us that we’re not in control.

He’s telling me that when you find yourself where you never thought you’d be, He’s positioning you for something you never could have planned.

On that starry night, Mary probably never imagined her first experience of childbirth and motherhood would occur in unfamiliarity, in a barn, in the dirt.

Maybe Jesus was born where He was because we needed to know it is okay for things to not look the way they’re supposed to. Maybe it was so we’d know we have a King who doesn’t fit the mold. Maybe it was a thousand different reasons.

Maybe one of the reasons is to show us that our expectations and plans fall short. Maybe we would settle for mediocrity when we were made for more.

…. The rest of his days he spent…wondering and pondering why he had not found a way to the East. He blamed the unknown continent that barred his way. It never occurred to him to be grateful that the unknown American continent had been in his way. Otherwise he and his men would have starved to death on the endless way to Asia.

For the world was three times as wide around as Columbus had believed.

– Ingri and Edgar D’Aulaire,  Columbus

Maybe we dream too small, too stubborn.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

– Ephesians 3:20-21, ESV

Saul the Pharisee never dreamed of becoming Paul the Evangelist. Peter, as a young fisherman, never imagined growing up to be the Rock the church would be built on. Columbus never planned on discovering America. John Adams, Abraham Lincoln – neither of them had any idea as children that they would be presidents who would direct and define our nation’s history.

And until the angel told her, Mary never imagined being the mother of the Messiah.

But when her plans were changed she gave the sacrifice of praise. Mary sang her magnificat though she never imagined being pregnant and unwed, shunned and suspected by society for the rest of her life. When she was engaged to Joseph, she didn’t think her wedding would be compromised by pregnancy and scandal.

All through history, none of the great figures and heroes had any idea what the big picture of their life would look like. They only saw a thousandth of it at a time, like you and me.

Except for Jesus. He was the only one who knew what He was getting into – way beyond inconvenience and into the depths of messy humanity. That’s where He chose to meet us.

And He is still meeting us here, right now, wherever we go.

__________

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whatever it takes: a rallying cry for adoptive and foster families

Adoptive and foster families, this is for you.

You, who went through all the training, requirements, meetings, interviews, and red tape. It was crazy-thorough. Then you brought your child home.

whatever it takes: a rallying cry for adoptive and foster families

And you learned that all that preparation was kind of like going through earthquake survival drills – learning first aid, how to take cover, how to evacuate safely – versus actually living through an 8-point earthquake. It was like the difference between learning CPR versus actually having to administer it on someone who has no pulse.

Some of our kids came to us carrying grief and trauma equivalent to that 8-point earthquake.

And we love them. But it’s hard because they are hurting, and hurting people hurt other people, and we are here to do everything possible to break that cycle.

But some days we don’t know what to do with them. There your kid is, doing that same behavior that’s driving you both crazy: Rages. Lying. Something unmentionable involving bodily fluids. And yep, we love them, but they don’t always believe it so they test our love. Sometimes they push back hard. These attachment issues are no joke, friend.

Some days we pray and do one thing, and the next day we pray and feel like we need to try something else. We’ve learned to live in grace on a moment-to-moment basis.

I know your house used to be your sanctuary, but now, some days it feels like a warzone. The atmosphere’s changed and you barely recognize it: tense, palpable, high-alert, heavy. Sometimes you feel the weight and pressure of it in your gut. You’ve learned that you need God’s wisdom and presence in every moment, too.

And I know it may not feel like it anymore, but this is still your turf. Your territory. The spiritual attack is real but you own this space. You are the boss here. And as much as their behavior might contribute to the chaos, your kids need you to fight for dominion.

Don’t lose yourself, friend. Your kids need you to still be you – and they need you to find them in the darkness. There’s a uniquely brilliant person in there behind all the trauma and behaviors who is dying to get out and be known.

And there’s a real you in here, too. You may feel like you lost yourself somewhere between the airport and the millions of appointments, but you are becoming refined. Strong. Whole, and more you than you’ve ever been before. You didn’t think you could be this tough, did you? You had no idea you’d be able to do all this. And here you are. This is you, doing all the stuff.

I hear your excuses; I’ve said them to myself plenty of times, too. I know you don’t feel like you’re enough. You don’t feel like you’re getting enough done, getting enough sleep, getting enough exercise, giving enough smiles, giving enough hugs to those kids. But those feelings aren’t the boss of you. They don’t change reality.

You are enough. You’re doing enough. God is enough to cover you in this time as you’re seeking Him, trying to shine light in darkness and find truth in trauma.

You’ve spent hours making phone calls, researching, getting references, making appointments, sitting in those appointments, wondering if this intervention is going to work for your child. Wondering if this professional is going to help your child, or if they’re going to do more harm than good.

You’ve missed some friends and social activities because things are different now. You wonder before every engagement if it’s going to be worth the effort, or if all the hoopla will evoke too much aftermath. We used to take for granted how easy it used to be, back when we never worried about overstimulation, hypervigilance with boundaries, and attachment issues.

You are the families who’ve been not just willing to go to the broken and hurting, but you’ve welcomed them into your own homes.

You are on the frontlines. And the church will see significant, exponential victory to the extent that it cares for those on the frontlines.

You’ve given everything you’ve got for the advancement of the Kingdom, and you’re giving people a vivid picture of how much God loves them. You are showing God’s heart for humanity – the same Spirit of adoption that He showed us.

In pockets around the world, the church is waking up to the power lying dormant in adoptive and foster families. The church is realizing that assumptions and lack of awareness about what these families endure have hindered not only the healing of the broken, but the growth of the Kingdom.

And there is a contingent of humble, repenting congregations rising up to do whatever it takes to support those who have already been doing whatever it takes – and in some cases, it’s taken everything – to walk out the spirit of adoption.

These teams – those who directly care for the broken, and those who support them in it – are unstoppable. They are mighty, gritty, capable of exploits, and not afraid to play hardball with darkness.

They are changing nations and generations. Together, they are living out a message that the world cannot ignore.

So you, my friends, are rocking this. Keep pushing through, and do whatever it takes to get some rest. To get some space. To find the you that you recognize again.

Because you’re in there, and you’re powerful. You’re changing the very nations with your daily steps to love your family and maintain dominion in your sanctuary.

praying for liftoff: a message to adoptive and foster families, and the Church who loves them

Way back in June we got the email. But way back in June, October feels decades away.

It crept closer though, and we had flights, hotel, rental car, childcare, everything – all our ducks in a row. Within a week of departure, we had both vehicles in the shop, both vehicles back out of the shop, a cellphone busted and subsequently replaced, and last-minute dinner with friends.

praying for liftoff: a message to adoptive and foster families, and the Church who loves themAnd then twenty minutes before we were supposed to leave, we lost our keys.

Friends, we haven’t lost our keys in ten years. Maybe twenty. But an hour later, we still hadn’t found them and we finally threw up our hands, rushed our goodbyes, and took the Stagecoach into Anchorage.

We made it just in time – good friends made up for lost time and met us in Departures to take the Stagecoach home with them for a three day sleepover. We skipped baggage check, made it through security, found our gate.

Our first trip away, just the two of us, since going to Bulgaria five years earlier – not exactly a vacation, more of a business and ministry trip – but it was 72 hours of purely adult time, mostly together.

And after all that rush, we waited.

I didn’t realize how many tiers they have now for boarding classes.

The announcements start rolling: “Now boarding passengers with small children and those needing assistance.” Wait seven minutes. “Now boarding First Class.” Wait another five minutes.

Now boarding VIP members,” which, at this point, sounds pretty unconvincing because you’d think that status wouldn’t need to wait for the third turn – in which case, we can file “VIP” under I don’t think that means what you think it means.

After these three groups, they successively call Gold Star Members, Gold Star Members with Glitter, Members Who Refrained from Scowling While Enduring Security, Members Who Packed Tooth Floss, Members Who Actually Use Tooth Floss, and finally, District Twelve, may the odds be ever in your favor.

We found our seats somewhere around District Ten, stowed our bags, and settled in for the redeye. And I forgot how magical liftoff is: the sudden rumbling, the intense increase in speed, feeling more pressure as it constrains you into your seat, getting louder and louder until suddenly — lightness, like driving from a gravel road onto new pavement, and the ground tips diagonally out the window.

I wrote earlier in the month about how we should never confuse humility with cowardice, and I preached it back to myself as we left our kids and excuses behind, preparing my message for the mission ahead.

We need to care for adoptive and foster families because these are the people willing to bring the mission field right into their own homes. These are the radicals, a force to be reckoned with in fulfilling the Great Commission – so why does the Body of Christ not nurture and protect such a battalion? Why do we generally seek to enlist adoptive and foster parents, but do so little to maintain them after the papers are signed, and the balloons are deflating? Why does the Church at large leave these families to languish with a mere pat on the back? How do we help the Church understand what these families really signed up for?

These are the families traveling through life as those needing assistance. They are First Class, they are VIPs, but they’re often relegated to the Church’s tail-end, left to fend for themselves in thin air, barely breathing, as they fumble for oxygen.

These are the questions I took with me to Colorado Springs, to tape an interview for Focus on the Family’s radio broadcast.

We’ve partnered with their ministry for years. More accurately, we partnered with them years ago until we adopted, and the pressure constrained us to our seats to such an extent that the fasten seatbelt sign didn’t go off until sometime in 2015. Even then, the turbulence kept us from wandering too far up and down the aisle before the sign came back on and we had to rebuckle.

But the email came in June and it was an opportunity that would take a special kind of idiot to refuse — so, not being that special, so we took it – not just for us, or for me as a writer, but for adoptive and foster and special needs families who desperately need this message to get out. Because they are exhausted in their cramped seats and they need to get up and roam the cabin a bit before they can’t take it anymore, and yank the hatch open to jump out.

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

– Philippians 1:4-6, ESV

A day and a half later, I sat in a studio across from two men I greatly admire. During a thirty-minute conversation, while we barely skimmed the surface across the gamut of adoption and foster ministry, we emphasized that caregivers need to be cared for, too – and how that doesn’t always look like what people think. We talked about how adoptive, foster, and special needs families need more than lip service and affirming nods, because “support” is also often filed under I don’t think that means what you think it means.

Foster and adoptive families have strapped in and buckled down, and when the drinks were served, the plane hit rough air and the mess went everywhere. People with good intentions came by and dumped cleaning supplies and a bucket of water into the tight quarters, but it further spread the mess, increased the discomfort, and crowded the occupants.

These families need the people around them to understand the context of their situation so they can help clean up the mess and not just add to it.

These families know what it is to grow in faith to the point of needing more from God – not just wanting more in our ease and selfishness, but needing more to meet the service and vision He’s called us to. We remember being needy and hurting, too. They’ve been willing to walk in the mess of missions and ministry, and have not been afraid to get their hands dirty in the hard work of caring for others.

These families need to be reminded that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. It’s not necessarily supposed to look finished yet. We may still be taxiing on the runway. That is okay.

Churches, extended families, and communities can learn how to support adoptive and foster families. We were able to take this trip because our church, family, friends, and community chose to learn how to stand alongside us. We could not have done it without a team of people willing to grow along with us.

Our friends come along side us, releasing the pressure of false expectations and ignorant assumptions. They know what it looks like in our homes behind closed doors. They know that some days, there’s a raging mess, screaming fits, and people either refusing to eat or gorging themselves on hidden food – not to mention what the kids might be doing.

These friends — they know it’s hard. They know you’re doing your best. They know that you never feel like your best is good enough, but they keep reminding you that it is good enough, because He’s good enough.

And it’s okay, you’re still taxiing.

These families need a community willing to step outside the glittery rainbow image the media has sold them, and into the often-gritty picture of reality in adoption and foster care. When that happens, they won’t give up on the Church because they’ll see that the Church hasn’t given up on them.

The Church – God’s Kingdom – is not built on those who quit, but on those who stay.

– David Pepper

And all our people are behind us, praying for liftoff.

____

You can listen to my interview here. Enjoy. :)

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praying for liftoff: a message to adoptive and foster families, and the Church who loves them