Thursday, June 30, 2011

Book Give-Away Bonus!

Your chances of winning Richard Stearns' The Hole in Our Gospel have just improved! 

Thanks to our dear friend Kristin, there are four more books to give away.  So there are now a total of FIVE books we're offering for free.

Be sure and spread the word.  We want as many people as possible to know about this book.

Just leave a comment and if you write anonymously, be sure to give your name and/or email address.

The give-away will expire tonight at 8 p.m. (EST) and the winners will be announced tomorrow, July 1.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Life-Changing Book!


It isn't often when you come across a book that you can't put down.  And much less, one that changes your life. 

Well, this book took me by surprise.  When Adéye told me a little of what it was about, I thought, Nah, I just don't think I'll like this.  But I was wrong.  The Hole In Our Gospel not only changed me, it gutted me from inside out.

Here's what the synopsis on the website has to say about it:

This is a story of how a CEO faced his own struggle to obey God, whatever the cost, and his passionate call for Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith. Believing that the “good news” is more than a private transaction between God and us, Stearns challenges readers with this question: What does God expect of us? Two thousand years ago, twelve people changed the world. Stearns believes it can happen again.

It's intriguing.  It's new (yet old).  It's challenging.  And it will haunt you if you let the Holy Spirit let it.

If you've never read it, you'll love it.  If you've already read it, you'll want to win it to give to someone who needs it.

To win it, all you need to do is leave a comment and I'll pick a winner at random.  If you're writing anonymously, leave your name.  Please limit comments to one per family.

Thank you and best to you!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

INTERVIEW: Former Reluctant Husband Chris Yeatts




Meet another husband who had to come around to enjoy the fullness of adopting children with special needs.

Chris Yeatts is a personable, soft-spoken man who has a strong sense of righteousness and justice.  It's no wonder he agreed to rescue two children who the world views as orphans who are least wanted.

Not only has this former Reluctant Husband chosen Mia and Lily, God has transformed his heart in both cases to fall madly in love with them before he even met them.

Let's read his story.  Then go to his and his wife's blog here to check out his beautiful family!

Tell me about how God started your adoption journey. 

My wife and I have always toyed with the idea of adoption even in the early years of our marriage, but I must admit, at that stage it just seemed like a nice idea and a good thing to do. I wish I could say that I’ve always had a tremendous love to fill my house with lots of needy children who needed a family, but that’s not necessarily been true for me. I used to feel if you have children in abundance, meaning more than two, that your life would be so much centered around them and their needs that it would be difficult for you to continue to live your life and to fulfill your destiny.

In September of 2000 my wife gave birth to our second son. Our excitement soon led to a very scary event. Rachel began hemorrhaging uncontrollably and almost died right in front of me.  After four hours of emergency surgery, she was okay, but her ability to have any more children was lost. I vividly remember sitting at her bedside the next day saying, “We always talked about maybe one day adopting.” We then smiled at each other and were encouraged at the thought of “maybe one day” turning into a real possibility.

In 2005 we began the process of adopting a healthy girl from China. This is something that I never thought I would do. When we initially discussed our “maybe one day” scenario, I thought it would be a child from the U.S., or maybe Russia, someone that looked like us and wouldn't stick out as much. This seems like a ridiculous and almost comical thought considering where my wife and I are at present, but I feel like I want to be as honest and open as possible.

There was something about China that I felt connected to.  My grandmother grew up in China and my great-grandparents were missionaries there.  I've always been fascinated with the culture and the people and have a deep respect and admiration for them. The only way I can explain it is that it was the right fit for our family, and once both I and my wife agreed, I never thought anything else about it.

Were you and your wife in agreement about adopting from the beginning?  If not, who hesitated the most and why?  What changed that person’s mind?

For me I always thought adoption was a great idea for others to consider, and I would support and admire them for their efforts.  But for myself, I was hesitant.  When one jumps off the cliff of a special-needs adoption, there are a lot of unknowns and what-if’s to consider.

But after waiting more than a year for a referral we decided to adopt a special-needs child with a cleft lip and a cleft palate.  This was scary for me as a man who is not a medical person I had a lot of fears and apprehensions.  My wife was completely the opposite.  She dove right in, and at times got very frustrated with me about my fears and apprehensions about the what-ifs and the unknowns regarding our future as a family raising a temporarily disadvantaged child.  Besides, in her words, “We are not getting any younger, and I don't want to be in my 60s or 70s when she graduates from college.”

After prayer and a lot of discussions with my beautiful Australian wife, we agreed, held hands, and jumped.  We have never looked back with any regrets.

We even traveled to China to adopt a second special-needs daughter, Lily.

How did you pick the orphans you have adopted?  And how did you know these two were the ones?

Every child in our family is different. They all have a unique story that defines who they are regardless of their birthplace. Mia, my amazing Little Princess/ninja warrior was our first adopted child. As I said, after waiting more than a year, we filled out the paperwork for a special-needs adoption, checked the appropriate boxes, and within a few weeks the agency sent us a little picture of our daughter with a massive cleft lip.  Rachel fell in love with her immediately.  Me?  I was so scared at first.  But after about four hours, something happened when I saw that photo again.  I just knew that little girl was our daughter!

Our second daughter Lily came about much quicker.  We knew we wanted another child with a medical need so we pursued that immediately. My wife felt that we should consider a cardiac baby this time, and yes, I was scared, but from our previous experience I had an overwhelming confidence that we could overcome any obstacle in our path.  We received two referrals we turned down. This was hard – to say no to any child is not easy, but we didn’t feel like they were ours.  When Lily’s referral came, we knew immediately – her medical condition was more serious than anything we ever thought we would have to deal with, but it didn’t matter. 

Why did you adopt children with special needs?

With Mia it started off as a practical option to receive a referral sooner, but it grew into more than that.  The more we began to understand the situation of special-needs children and how desperate some of their situations are, it became clear to us that we just needed to do it.

Why did you choose those particular special needs?

I like to make this very clear for others who are considering this process.  You have to know your limitations and what is right for your family.  What we decided to take on as parents is not necessarily right for everyone.  We chose a particular special need after many conversations with God and each other as a family before taking the jump. We also did a lot of research and study and made the most informed decision possible. 

Also, what you’re told about the child medically may differ from what the child actually has.  You need to know that once you commit to a child, whatever ends up happening, that child is yours.  Just like when my wife delivered the boys, if something had been wrong with them, we would still have loved them just the same. 

Our daughter Lily has a lot going on.  She is very developmentally delayed, something that was not in the original referral.  Her heart condition is also non-repairable right now.  We don’t even know how long she will live, but it doesn’t matter.  Lily is ours.  She knows what it means to have a family, and we will do everything we can to help her.  We love her unconditionally.

Something just happens to you as a father when you hold your daughter in your arms for the first time. I remember holding both my daughters for the first time and introducing myself.  Tears running down my face, I told them over and over, “I am your daddy.”

What would you say to other men reading this blog who had the same concerns you had about adoption?

One thing I feel is most important for fathers to realize is that you choose to commit to this lifelong change out of a place of peace and reassurance, that you're leading your family in the right direction. I'm not saying that you should only make this choice if everything is completely spelled out and revealed to you because frankly that is completely impossible. When we decide to be parents—via adoption or birth—there are no guarantees and we need to be flexible.  You should at least feel this is the right path for you and understand enough about it to know that you are up for this journey.

Also, be open and honest about all your fears and apprehensions with your wife.  Talk about it with her as much as you need to, even if she seems so confident.  You both need to get there. If you're reading this and you don't have that type of relationship with your wife, fix that first before you consider adoption.

Now that you have your children, what do you realize now that you didn’t realize before you got them?

With the addition of these two children, our lives have been enriched beyond words. These two daughters have not only been a blessing to us as a family, but they have also been a great joy to our extended family and our friends. I cannot imagine my life without Mia and Lily. I have grown tremendously as a person, as a father, and as a man as a result of the tremendous privilege of being called daddy.

My original fears about adoption and having lots of children distracting me from fulfilling my dreams in life were so wrong.  What I have learned is that being a father to these children is what has enhanced my purpose in life, and I couldn’t imagine it being any other way.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Salem Boys Play With NBA Stars

It's true.  Our oldest two sons, Connor and Kellan, were mixing it up on the court with NBA pros.  Called Integrity Basketball Camp, the evangelistic sports program features a group of former NBA stars who absolutely love the Lord.

The boys loved it!  (And the little boy in me loved it too!)

The pros were so nice.  Well, they are Christ-filled, aren't they?

I'll let the pics tell the story...


This far and no farther, Connor says.



That's a looooong way up there.


Focus...Focus...Focus...

Kellan joking with former Golden State Warrior star Chris Taft.


Chris showing off for the kids.


Connor showing off for the kids!


Kellan listening to Seth Franco, the first white player
for sixty years for the Harlem Globetrotters.


Seth learned tricks while he was injured and his career looked bleak.  But because of his
tricks, he landed the lead role in a basketball movie and was asked to be a Globetrotter.
Don't you just LOVE how God uses our valleys to take us to mountaintops?


Connor Salem, member of Make-A-Swish Foundation.

Kellan with good friend, Sam, right.


"Phew.  Long three days, but worth it!"

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reluctant Husband Syndrome - Question 10


QUESTION 10:

I want my kids out of the house when I grow old, because I want ME time.



Ah, the American Dream. 
 
The day after your youngest takes off his graduation gown, he drives off into the sunset, with you and wifey arm in arm, sporting Norman Rockwell grins, and giving a slow Rose Bowl wave to the back of his car.
 
Then BAM, SWISH, SCOOT!
 
You both run into the house, grab the suitcases and cooler, and throw them into your brand-spanking-new 40-foot, triple-slide fifth wheel RV.  Wifey and you slam the doors shut and…”Yeeeeeeeeeeeee-haaaaaaaw!”
 
Free at last…free at last…thank God Almighty, we are free at last!
 
~ ONE YEAR LATER ~
 
SETTING: Sitting at three-legged breakfast table.  Your face in the newspaper.  Wifey’s face in her coffee mug.
 
WIFEY:      Have you heard from Little Jack?
YOU:         Nope.
WIFEY:      What about Sheila?
YOU:         Nope.
WIFEY:      Reginald?
YOU:         (Silence.)
WIFEY:      How come the kids don’t call?
YOU:         Busy, suppose.
WIFEY:      All day and night?
YOU:         (Silence.)
 
You slowly get up, removing your slipper to swat a cockroach racing across the floor.  Then sit back down, burying your face in the paper.
 
WIFEY:      How come the kids don’t call?
YOU:         (Grunt.)
WIFEY:      How come the kids don’t call?
 
Hey, even if I’m dancing the rumba every night in Cancun, sipping horchatas, that too gets old.


The irony of this Christian life is that we know we’re supposed to surrender our lives to Jesus, but only the part before we retire.  When that day comes, watch out, it’s ME time, baby!  Time to break out the bubbly (non-alcoholic, of course) and rock to Petra. 
 
After all, I have to retire, don’t I?  Isn’t that part and parcel of the American Dream?  Work hard, earn truckloads of money, then go on a permanent sabbatical until Jesus comes?  Oh, I may encourage younguns in church now and then.  I might even pray for them, if opportunity presents itself.  But now it’s chip-cashing time.  Close that 401K right on schedule and see the world, man.

 

 
The key words are “themselves” versus “God.”
 
I can store up food.  I can store up money.  I can even store up time.  I can plan my time for the rest of my life, if I like. 


 
Just as it is with my life, my time is not my own either.  Oh, great, Lord.  Anything else you want?  Yeah.  Everything else.  Yep, that just about covers it.
 
But what’s interesting about the passage in James is that I get caught up saying I’m going to do this and that.  God just doesn’t say we shouldn’t do that.  He goes out of His way to say, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
 
In other words, instead of planning to build up wealth or do whatever else I decide to do with my life, I need to consider the good I ought to do—or rather, I KNOW to do.
 
Why?  Because otherwise, my plans are futile.  If I don’t live out my life the way God wants me to, chances are, it won’t look pretty.

 

I love that word “but.”  I can plan and plan and plan.  I can say, when my kids grow up and leave, I’m going to have a life!  BUT…if I call myself a Christian, God may have it turn out my way, but He will ALWAYS have it turn out HIS way.
 
Personally, I envisioned a quiet retirement.  I thought, yeah, I’ll agree to have a lot of kids, but I had better have my time when I’m old.  Oh, I never spoke the words.  But trust me, they were in my heart.
 
I repented before the Lord, and I told Him I never want to save my own life.  Have your way in my life’s final chapter as well as the rest of the book, Lord.  Even if that means my nest won’t be so empty when I retire.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Must I Be Perfect Before I Adopt?


The other day, I got a heartfelt comment from a woman who opened her heart on paper to me.  Beth, as I’ll call her, was a reluctant wife.  But now, God has moved on her to start with an adoption! 

But listen to what held Beth back.  She was not reluctant because she looked inwardly and couldn’t reconcile how she was going to fit this child around her world.  She was concerned that she wouldn’t be a good enough mother for an orphan; that with flaws and all, she couldn’t understand why God would choose her to be a fatherless child’s mother.

But through this journey, here’s what God has done in her heart.  She's referring to a post I did here entitled "Father's Day Special: Confessions of An Imperfect Dad"...

“Thank you for your honesty. It has helped me to see that it's not the perfect June Cleaver mother an orphan needs. It's a loving, nurturing family that puts God first in everything. A home where "I'm sorry's" and hugs are given freely. Where prayer is the first answer to everything and love is unconditional and modeled after Jesus' example.”

Friends, I cannot tell you what a letter like this does to my heart.  Imagine what it does to our heavenly Father’s heart!

You see, her shortcomings were not criminal.  They were basic.  They are things you and I deal with on a daily basis.  They are things that bring us face to face with our humanity in a fallen world.

How, God?  How can you use ME???

Or better yet, Why?

I certainly do not have all the answers.  (And by the way, God likes it that way. J)  But this I do know: A child who lives in relative obscurity (and this is a nice way of wording their “forgotten-ness”), a child who possibly lives with neglect and abuse every day of their life, a child who may even live in a decent orphanage, STILL has no one they can call Mommy or Daddy.

There is literally no one who tucks them into bed at night, prays over them, kisses them on their cheeks, and tells them they love them.  There is no emotional protector—someone who picks them up their arms when they’re crying because they’re hurt and whispers to them, “Don’t worry, my love.  It will be all better, because there’s a God who will always be here for you, and as long as I’m on Earth, I will always be here for you!”

An orphan does not need a perfect mom or dad.  They simply need a mom or dad. 

We can be so caught up in the day-to-day minutia of life.  One day melts into another until weeks, months and years pass, and we ask ourselves, “Where has the time gone?”

But each and every day counts to a child who does not have what God created them to have—a family.  God is all about family.  He gave Eve to Adam, then children, as a model of what the heavenly Family is all about. 

God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  That’s a family.  It’s not this—God Unit Number One, God Unit Number Two, and God Unit Number Three.  Nor is it God the CEO, God the President, and God the Senior Vice-President.

God is passionate about marriage and children being in homes.  He’s even passionate about widows being taken care of.  Why?  Because He knows the innate need of every human being, whether they admit it or not, to belong in a family.

And this is what clicked in our friend Beth.  And this is what is clicking right now in many of you who are reading this post.  Adoption is not about fitting another mouth into our world.  It’s not about being the perfect parent.  It’s about getting in a car or on a plane to present yourself to a young child to say, “I’m here and I’m your new family.”

God bless all the Beths out there.  And God bless you!

Monday, June 20, 2011

TESTIMONY: Another Perfect Imperfect Dad





...And speaking of being an imperfect dad myself, I met another one. Can you believe it? I wonder how many of you are out there. More than a handful?

Meet Stephen from British Columbia, Canada. He’s honest, he’s unapologetic, he’s forthright, and best of all,…he’s imperfect.




I'm a recovering, yet stubborn reluctant husband and father. I've told my wife that we have had enough kids from before we even had kids to today - five kids later. Two bio and three Chinese adoptions later, I'm still a reluctant father! For all those men out there that don't think they can do it, I'm a great example of getting it done, and still maintaining my fantastic reluctant husband status.

Adopting three "special-needs" kids in three and a half years is not what everyone should do, but it HAS changed my life, my heart, and my perspective about God's provision and strength in significant and fundamental ways.

I used to be the busy-at-church husband: doing, doing, doing until everyone thought I was a super-Christian with a few vices! Little did I know that playing the part of a Christian man and living the part (REALLY living the part) look very different. If men had feelings, the two roles would have FELT different too!

These days, I don't sit on the deck dreaming of what I'll do with my life, my pastor doesn't see much of me, I'm not on this board, or that committee. In fact, I'm extremely surprised if I arrive to church before the greeters have left to enjoy the service! My "Christian walk" is more of a hunched over waddle with a few dives to the ground for cover and a split-second recharge on bended knee before the next event.

But I'll tell you what... I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't change the fact that I'm in another country to receive medical treatment for newest Child #5 and that he walked upright for the first time today! I wouldn't change the fact that Child #2 told me this afternoon that seeing people without all their bits was uncomfortable until Child #5 came along without his legs and now she thinks/feels that this is normal! They both get it: just do what you can with what God gave you and move on—no stigma, no regrets, just a life worth living...an adventure worth enjoying!

If I had to change anything at all, it would be that I didn't enjoy more of the drama along the way. I'd change my attitude about trying to do everything perfectly, instead of appropriately, for each of my kids. I'd change how clean the car was for the first ten years of parenting. I'd change the look I give my wife every time she mentions another child. I'd change the power that fear has in my life and how I still allow myself to be a slave to it when called on to act dangerously—to make messes and take chances!

Yet, I'm still a reluctant husband! I still hold on to my fear (terror, really) of being a poor father, or failing to provide for my family, or failing to be there emotionally or physically when child 1 through 5 may need me. I still worry and worry some more about some things in my life that I can't change and should give over to God. I still argue with my wife about Child 6 through ???? whenever it's brought up. I still worry about being the best parent/husband in the world, and know that I can't be because of all the mistakes I've made along the way...

...Then I have a moment where someone asks for my testimony and I think—what is REALLY going on in my life? I take a moment to pause the game of life and realize that I've never been more challenged, yet rewarded. I've never been so busy, yet effective. I've never had so many hugs when I return from a business trip or just doing errands in town.

I am beginning to realize that life is not about being the best father in the world, it's about shutting up and doing what God asks of you and knowing that He made you to be enough to fulfill his plans for your life. I'm not perfect, but I'm not MEANT to be, or even created to be. I'm the person God needed to DO what God needed when and how God needed it. I am the best father I can be; and I'm the best father for each of my kids (one through ???) and husband to my wife (just one).

I hope that I've made at least one man out there two cents richer for their trouble. Enjoy the adventure!

If you'd like to contact Stephen, he can be reached at speters@bullseyepackaging.ca.  And remember, if Stephen can do it, you can to.  Why not write a testimony about yourself, Dad, as it relates to adopting?  You don't have to be a good writer.  Just have a willing heart.  Many lives can be touched by your story.  Shoot it to me at nogreaterjoydad@gmail.com!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

FATHER’S DAY SPECIAL: Confessions of an Imperfect Dad





Hey, Dads! Please take this opportunity to fly over to Reece’s Rainbow where there’s a special forum just for dads! I wrote a post there, and I’m a moderator for their forum, so let’s talk!

---

It’s not even a temptation. I don’t have one inkling in me to gussy up how I look in front of you. At the same time, sounding humble and flawed can also be a form of pride.

That’s why I want to take this Father’s Day as an opportunity to explain that I’m Popeye. You know…”I am what I am.” (Sorry for you youngin’s who don’t know who that sailor is who looks like Jay Leno with balloon forearms.) And that’s why I want to encourage you dads out there, on this Father’s Day weekend, to be true to yourself and to your family.

~~~I get impatient. Just thirty seconds ago I scolded two or three kids (I always lose count) because they go in and out of the front door, providing air conditioning for the entire county where we live. Nice of them, huh?

~~~I get in front of the computer too often. I have this fear of one of my children standing on top of a university tower with a sniper’s rifle in ten years, yelling, “MY OLD MAN WAS ALWAYS IN FRONT OF THE LAPTOP!!!”

~~~Sometimes I hate doing honey-do’s. “Honey, do take out the trash.” “Honey, do clean the kitchen for me.” “Honey, do take the little girls up to the third floor and give them a bath.” Did you hear that? The THIRD FLOOR, for goodness sakes! ‘Would that I were the soccer star I was in high school. I climbed stadium stairs “for fun.”

So sometimes when I read a comment from my or my wife’s blog that reads “You are such a wonderful, Godly family!”, I think, Lady, you just don’t know.

BUT…

I thank God for Romans 7:25, Romans 7:25, Romans 7:25 (I’m memorizing it)…

“Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

And so…

”This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him” (1 John 3:19-22).

I love that, dads—“If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.” Don’t you love it? “He knows everything.” Duh! Why would John state the obvious? Because WE NEED TO HEAR IT.

God knows that not only do I love my wife and children with an endearing love but that I am aware of my shortcomings and want to do anything and everything to overcome them. And not only does He know, He is greater than my heart!

So Dad’s, on this Father’s Day 2011, be encouraged that God knows how much you love your family. I make an extra effort, in light of the shortcomings, to let my children know that. And it goes beyond just saying I love them as I tuck each of them in bed every night.

It means focusing on one child at a time as often as possible and affirming them, affirming my love for them, spending “dates” with them, kissing them (even the boys who still allow it!), and doting over them when they want to show me something they made or did.

It means not modeling fatherhood around who my earthly father was, although he was a good man. It means taking God’s example of “knowing” and being “greater than our hearts.” Then it means doing it!

Happy Dad’s Day, Dads!!! I’m praying for each and every one of you.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Men, I Need Your Testimonies!


I am collecting testimonies from men out there!

You don’t have to be an RHS or former reluctant husband.  Just be a husband.  Or single men are fine.

I’m looking for a one- to two-page testimony of one thing—how your adopted child(ren) have changed your life.  That simple.  How is your life different since you’ve taken the plunge?

Make the testimony funny or sentimental or dramatic or simple.  Don’t be intimidated because you feel you’re not a good writer.  Please!  This is not a writing contest.  It’s a time to share from your heart so that other men can be impacted.

Wives, your mission, if you decide to accept it, is to prod your man with the blunt end of a broom while he’s sitting on the couch watching the news.  And if he’s anything like me, he’s not watching, he’s pretending to watch while he catches some zzzzz’s.

Thank you.  I cannot wait!!!!

My email is (of course…) nogreaterjoydad@gmail.com


Monday, June 13, 2011

Reluctant Husband Syndrome: Question 9

QUESTION 9:

What if we adopt someone who harms or abuses our other children?

None of the other questions in this series cuts my heart like this one.  Clearly there are some of you reading this post who have first-hand experience with this issue.  I do not. 

But for those who do, whether you are right in the middle of a situation or are dealing with the aftermath of a painful episode, I want to pray for you.

Precious and mighty Father, we place our entire trust into your hands.  Give great wisdom to the parents who have experienced their adopted child harming or abusing their other children.  Meet them where they are right now, in that place of hurt and pain.  Bring healing and wholeness in the areas where it’s needed.  Bring your presence into the situation.  Bring your hope and peace to the entire family.  Thank you, that when we throw our hands up in surrender, you catch us and act!  We love you and we trust you with our very lives.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

All four of our adopted children have not harmed or abused any of their siblings.  Of course, we adopted all of them while they were very young (except for Haven, whom we got just weeks before she turned eight).  I say this because those adopted children who act out hurtfully toward the other kids are usually older than the other children are, though that’s not always the case.

Why do some adopted kids behave this way?  Think of it this way.  Why don’t MORE adopted kids behave this way, in light of what they endure in orphanages or foster homes?  Things like sexual abuse (from fondling to repeated rape), orphan trafficking, drug abuse, severe neglect, emotional rejection, starvation, deprivation of proper shelter and clothing, mind games, institutional incarceration, slavery, battery, and even mutilation and torture.

Not to mention those who experience these things from their own parents before they are institutionalized.  For example, in one Eastern European country, only 10% of orphans are institutionalized because their parents are deceased.  All the rest suffer from their parents' abandonment, effects of alcoholism, and a wide range of domestic abuse.

In the very least, there is no telling how deep the wounds of a little heart run because they simply have no mommy or daddy. 

As such, it is extremely difficult to find data on what percentage of orphans worldwide have suffered some form of abuse compared to those who have not.  How can one possibly measure that? 

It’s the same as when you fly to a country to adopt, and you find out quickly there’s something wrong here—your new child has a medical or psychological condition that wasn’t on the doctor’s report!  Just as it’s next to impossible to gather statistics with these matters, so it is with abuse.

But you know what?  Yes, there can be issues.  But if you were to become involved in the adoption community through blogs, chat groups, and forums, you will find that in most cases, a child you bring home will not harm or abuse your other children.  And this absolutely amazes me. 

No person can fathom how far-reaching God’s arms are to these little ones who had no life before someone like you decided you would be their mommy or daddy.  That’s why it is so important that more believers answer the call from God to work WITH HIM. 

As we surrender our lives to our Lord, THIS is a very tangible way He puts us to work for His kingdom.

Do you hear the call?

Do you have what it takes, which is simply a willing heart?

Will you move headlong toward risk for the sake of His glorious kingdom?  

Saturday, June 11, 2011

One Special Day

Today was a "special" day.  I spent it with my family and with some special people.

We had the Special Olympics in our hometown today.  We not only braved the heat, so did the athletes, giving all they had--all they had practiced for--for this special day.

Let my camera tell the story...

~ ~ ~

In life, there are ups...


and there are downs...


and there are even twists upside down...



But the key is to never give up...


until you pass the finish line...


Then when you do, celebrate...


Even if it's with a buddy...


Or two...


And even if you need to scream...


Or you need to dance...


Relish the moment, then take it home in your heart with your loved one...


And on behalf of all of your loved ones out there, Special Ones, we will keep on celebrating for you...



Thursday, June 9, 2011

INTERVIEW: Former Reluctant Husband Steve Schwenzer

I am so excited to introduce you to my new friend Steve Schwenzer. 

If you ever met Steve, you'd like him.  He's tall and husky, but he's also a gentle guy.  A real softy, actually.  Steve would probably disagree with me.  In fact, his wife Carey told us he never cries.  But God did an amazing thing in this man's heart after using my wife's blog about his now daughter, Julia.  You can read it here.

I don't want to take the thunder away from Steve's story.  So why don't we go right to the interview and learn how this amazing guy turned from being a Reluctant Husband to an all-in daddy!

And do yourself a favor.  Go to the Schwenzer's blog and see pics of his beautiful family, expanded by two precious FORMER orphans.  The address is http://www.schwenzerfamilyupdates.blogspot.com/  You'll want to make it a "favorite!"




Tell me about how God started your adoption journey. 

My wife Carey and I had always discussed the possibility of adoption, but it was always for some time in the future. We figured once Evan, our two year old, was a little older, we would look into adoption. We just weren’t ready to take it on. We had four kids and Evan was the biggest handful out of all of them. We didn’t think we had the money. I didn’t know if I had the capacity to love someone else’s kid as much as I love my own. Our house was not big enough.  It just didn’t feel like the right time.

Well, God had different ideas for my wife and me.  Adéye, your beautiful bride, came home from Ukraine with a burden on her heart.  She told the story on her blog about a little girl named Julia that was suffering from a terminal illness and was basically being left alone in a small crib in a back room. My wife read this blog one night and came upstairs to bed and told me about it. I basically responded with a “mmm, okay…send me the link. I’ll read it tomorrow” thinking in my head that it would be a nice story, but that I wasn’t going to do anything about it.

Oh, how wrong I was. Little did I realize that my life would change forever after reading that blog post. I got to work, logged onto my machine, and brought up the blog. By the end of the blog, I was sobbing in my office.  I immediately sent a text to my wife. It basically said “Find out what we have to do to get that little girl out of there.” The Holy Spirit had worked in my heart so much so that I jumped without thinking. Carey started crying as soon as she got my text. The Holy Spirit had been working in her, too, but she didn’t know what to expect with me.

Were you and your wife in agreement about adopting from the beginning?  If not, who hesitated the most and why?  What changed that person’s mind?

We were in agreement about adoption. We were not going to do it for a while, and in no way would it be special-needs kids. We have enough to do with healthy kids.  One little blog post…oh and a LOT of pushing by the Holy Spirit…sent Carey and me down the adoption path at the same time with the same motivation. Neither of us stopped to think about how this would impact us. It just felt right.

How did you pick the two orphans you are now adopting?  And how did you know these two were the ones?

Well, Julia picked us via the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We read her story and we knew that she was meant to be in our family. We needed to share the love and words of Jesus with this special little girl before her time on this earth ends.

Aaron just kind of fit. Carey fell in love with him as soon as she saw the pictures of him. He was due to be shipped off to an adult institution which is never good. Carey showed him to me and I had a so-so response, but only because the push to get Julia was so huge that other feelings were kind of overrun by that. But I didn’t have any misgivings other than we would be getting TWO special-needs kids instead of just the one.

Were your children’s special needs ever an issue?

With Julia, I didn’t really consider her special needs other than the fact that we knew she had a very limited time to be ministered to and to be shown the love of Jesus and a family.  Since we were going through Reece’s Rainbow for Julia, getting a second special-needs child just made sense. And, to be honest, cerebral palsy is probably one of the easiest special needs to deal with. It is not progressive. We already know all the issues with it. And there are things that can be done  to correct some of the issues such as his ability to walk! The knowns were attractive to us since what we were getting with Julia was so unknown. And, he just seemed like a really cool kid.

Bottom line is we realized after we started the process that someone has to adopt these kids. Everyone can’t say someone else will do it.

Tell me about any fears you had, as man of the household, that aren’t there now.

Before we were introduced to Julia and touched beyond belief by her story, I had many, many misgivings. How could we afford $30,000? We don’t have time to do anything as it is, how on earth can we take care of more kids, especially with special needs? How could I possibly love someone else’s kids? Adoption is for other people, not for me.

Well, the money took care of itself. Adéye ran a fundraiser for Julia on the same blog post that she told her story on. In five days, $20,000 was raised. Five days! Thank you, God!

As for the time issue, well, it’s still there. I have no idea how we are going to have time for all six kids! But you know what? We are managing with God’s help. There’s an old adage that if you want something done, give the task to a busy person. I think this may be true. We have more to do now than ever before. But now we seem to work more efficiently and let certain things slide where we need to.

And Julia was in the hospital an hour away, which ate into a whole lot more time. But we did it! Was it stressful? Yes. Is all this doable? Absolutely! God tells us through James to take care of the orphans and widows. It is very important to God. He has a special place in his plans for children. So, he will make it possible!

As for loving these kids? I was in love with them long before we even met them. There is something that happens in your heart once you commit to bringing a child home.  Once Carey and I decided to bring home Julia and Aaron, we now felt like we were being kept separated from our two kids and we wanted to bring them home. When I finally got to hold Julia in my hands, I, without a doubt, knew she was my little girl and I would do anything for her. And hearing Aaron tell us he had been waiting for us for his whole life made me cry. God is good, my friends. Adopting is God’s will. And he makes it work, and work beautifully.

What would you say to other men reading this blog who had the same concerns you had about adoption?

Misgivings about adoption are natural. It is a change and most people don’t like change. But God wants us to do it. He will give us a way. You will have to make sacrifices. It is a fact of adopting kids into your family. But what sacrifice is not worth the life of a little child? God gave his only Son for the lowest sinner among us. I think we can afford to sacrifice a little comfort for the sake of these beautiful children. And, as with everything in God’s plan, there are great rewards for doing His will. These children bring so much joy into our lives as we watch them blossom and respond to the love of a family!

Now that you have your children, what do you realize now that you didn’t realize before you got them?

It is so easy to love these kids!!!! The daily routine is a bit more stressful. The process to get the kids is long, arduous, and sometimes painful. Satan does not want us to do this. He works very hard to throw obstacles in our way. But you know you are on the right path when Satan gets interested. But when the journey is done and we are at home with these kids, watching them learn how to fit in and watching our bio kids learning how to fit them in, it is so worth it.




Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reluctant Husband Syndrome - Question 8


QUESTION 8:

What if the child we adopt has special needs that will take away from our current quality of life?

First let me refer you to an excellent post my wife recently published that addresses a commentor’s concern about being equipped to care for special-needs children as they turn into adults.  Go here.

Now let me tell you that I worried about how any special-needs children we adopted might affect the rest of my family.  As a man created to be the protector of my household, I dreaded having some “foreign body” enter our home and harming my other children.  Isn’t that horrible?  I think about my four adopted girls and wonder how I ever perceived them as bacteria entering a body!

What if one of them had uncontrollable fits where satan twists her head around 360 degrees and she takes a sledge hammer to one of my boys’ heads?  I couldn’t live with myself.

But really, what concerned me the most was how life would change—plain and simple.  I enjoyed taking my wife for dates once a week.  Would that
need to stop?  And how could we possibly go camping with special-needs kids?

And what about the finances?  Would my other boys be left without because we have to make the money spread thinner?  Would we not be able to send any of them to college or buy them a car? 

I can only speak for myself.  For me, it all boiled down to a spiritual issue.  I had to come to terms with a Scripture passage.  “Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it” (Luke 17.33). 

The two most important words in that passage for me are “their life.”  It’s like God calls it that on purpose, sort of tongue in cheek.  If I really heeded that passage, then there’s no such thing as “my life!”  If I lose it, how is it mine?

I was “bought at a price” (1 Cor. 6:20).  So my concern for a changed “quality of life” is ridiculous, because I don’t have a life.  Therefore, it’s a moot point to be concerned about its quality.

Like everything in my spiritual journey, I have had to come to grips with what my heart tries to protect.  If Jesus Christ is truly the head of me and my household, then it’s only logical that He knows better.  And I want what HE wants!

I can honestly say from experience, that our family’s “quality of life” is so much richer since I lost my life.  For us to choose to adopt special-needs kids was the greatest thing that has happened to our entire family. 

“Things” no longer determine quality.  Following God’s will does.  And I thank Him that His will for us was to adopt SN children.  We could not be richer for it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

I LOVE that word, adoption!


I love the term “adoption.”  I just love it!

Before you think I’m nuts, let me explain why.  I was such a cotton-headed ninny muggins.  (Thank “Elf” for that phrase.)  For most of my life, the concept of adoption was so foreign, so other-people-do-that sort of thing.

A couple adopted a child or more as a last resort, when they realized—perhaps after waiting for years—that they couldn’t have children of their own.  Poor chaps, I thought, something’s “wrong” with one of them.

I wasn’t being mean.  I was just ignorant.  I didn’t know then what I know now, that if a couple is not able to conceive, God will use their circumstance to bless them with an incredible child through adoption.

I also didn’t put two and two together scripturally.  Adoption is how we Gentiles become part of the family of God.  Jews are naturally chosen by God, while all others can be “grafted in” (Rom. 11:17).

We non-Jew Christians are ALL adopted!  Think about that.  Nowhere in the Bible does it say that every human is God’s child.  We are all created in His image, true.  God has an immense desire to have those people grafted in, true (John 3:16).  But we are not God’s child until we are adopted.

And there are five Bible verses, no less, that hit this point home.  All five use the curious phrase, “adoption to sonship” (Rom. 8:15,23; 9:4; Gal. 4:5; Eph. 1:5).

This is why I love the word “adoption” so much.  We are not God’s only-begotten son or daughter.  But God makes a point that we are not just adopted randomly but to the same level of sonship as His Son Jesus Christ! 

Please do not misunderstand.  Only Jesus is the only-begotten (or born) Son of God.  Only Jesus has pre-eminence in all things.  But when we accept that Son of God in our lives, voluntarily conceding our will to God’s will for the rest of our lives, God opens His arms wide and says, “Welcome home, son, daughter!”

We now share in “the riches in his glorious inheritance” (Eph. 1:18), “marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (verse 13)!

And all of this because we were adopted. 

And you know what?  God doesn’t get bent out of shape when there’s still another adopted child coming into The Family. 

I wonder why we do.
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