Friday, January 20, 2012

Asking for Stories

In preparing for the series next month on internet sex, I am looking for stories from married people who have been devastated by this, either from falling into the sin themselves or from having a spouse who did. 

If you would like to share how internet sex has destroyed (or nearly destroyed) your family, please send them to my email address at salem.private@yahoo.com.  And know that all stories I publish would be posted as from "Anonymous."

Thank you for your help.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Update: January 12

                                                                      


Well, it's pretty clear.  I have received TONS of
responses, mainly from women, who have acknowledged a need to have the subject of "Men and Pornography" come out in the open. 

Thank you to all of you who have given me input.  It was all very valuable and very appreciated.

SO...Since I need to gather my many thoughts and resources for a while, you can expect a series on this topic beginning in the first part of February.

PLEASE pray for me, as the enemy most certainly does not want his schemes exposed in the light, nor does he want people set free from this horrible scourge that is just not addressed as much as it should be, considering the magnitude and scope of its impact.

Thank you!

~ ~ ~

Well, we're finally out of an odd bout of sickness in our house.  One day last week, FOUR kids threw up in the same day!  Then they all recovered beautifully.  Then, after a couple of days, three of them came down with strep. 

At first, we thought it was a matter of the Salems getting used to the germs in Colorado again.  But then our neighbor told us she had the exact same thing.  Then a friend told us that, too.

Today, thanks to some meds and a lot of prayer, we are all healthy!  Imagine that.  God is good.

~ ~ ~

I am currently reading a chapter each night of the fantastic book Kisses from Katie, by a 23-year-old single woman who is in the process of adopting 13 young girls in Uganda! 

We just love this girl we never met.  She started her ministry in Uganda when she was just seventeen!

Tonight, I read a very profound statement she included in her book:

"Adoption is a redemptive response to tragedy that happens in this broken world."

I like that.  A "redemptive response to tragedy."  All adoptive parents out there, you are God's FEMA unit.  Only much more efficient! :)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Men and Pornography?

I'm reaching out to my readers (and lurkers) to ask you a very important question.

The topic of men and pornography has been heavy on my heart lately.  I am encountering more and more men who confide in me how the subject has been or still is a problem for them.  The statistics are staggering, given the number of Christian men, even ministers, who have struggled with this addiction.

Since this is a very sensitive subject, I simply want to ask you first: 

Should I or shouldn't I write a series of posts about this? 

Obviously, I would not publish your responses to this one-question survey.  But this might be a topic that needs to be addressed if it's not being talked about/prayed about in your churches. 

My goal would be to expose what the devil is doing and suggest his plan to impact men globally.  I am no expert or "prophet," but I do have strong feelings about this form of spiritual attack.  And I want to see nothing less than thorough, effective healing.  So if this interests you--either for your sake or for someone else who might benefit--would you please comment below?  And again, be assured I will not publish these comments (unless you state otherwise).

Thank you and God bless you!

God IN the Wilderness

In just a few hours, I begin orientation for a job that is on an as-needed basis—serving as a hospice chaplain.
OK, so it’s not a full-time permanent job.  I’m still jumping up and down, though, like a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert.

Being a missionary and minister, our journey has taken us around the globe and back again.  Many Christians in the United States have taken a hit in this economy, and many of those feel they need to pass on that “hit” to the missionaries they support.  So I have felt a need to supplement our income with other work.

For 20 months, I have not worked.  Men, can any of you relate? 

These past 20 months have been some of the most difficult and challenging months of my entire life.  I am definitely not one to get angry at God.  Why should I blame Him for anything, if He’s sovereign and is always looking after my best interests?  But I’d lie if I said I never asked Him what He was up to.   

For me, Charles Dickens’ famous opening line for A Tale of Two Cities sums up this season for me.  But I’m not just going to quote the most famous part—“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”  Read how the entire first paragraph reads:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

OK, so I never once thought I was going “the other way,” thank God.  But you get the picture.

And I will say that I, in my weakest of moments, experienced “incredulity,” but not in what you think.  I never disbelieved God.  I just wondered if He ever wanted to do anything to rescue me out of my wilderness.  I thought of Moses—sojourning for 40 years in the desert and never getting permission to cross over into the Promised Land.  God wasn’t being cruel to Moses.  After all, Moses made his own bed by striking the rock in the desert twice when God told him to speak to it (Num. 20:1-12).

So in the past 20 months, I’ve often reflected as to which rocks I have struck (or smitten, if you prefer the king’s English).

Human nature is unique.  We always want to go back to our sin.  We say, “Aha, there you have it!  That sin I did or that collection of sins…THAT’S why God is leaving me in Palm Desert!”

But God is not counting my sins against me (2 Cor. 5:19), and He’s not counting yours either.

So the lessons I have learned and am still learning and may never learn this side of heaven…well, they’re abundant.  But one thing I do know is that God puts us in wilderness seasons like I’ve been in simply because He’s God. 

Because He’s God, I will endure it.

Because He’s God, I will accept it.

Because He’s God, I will embrace it.

And you know what?  IN the wilderness, God feeds us! Just like He did Elijah. And we didn't even have to eat ravens, either!

Thank you, my wonderful Father, for allowing me and my family to endure the season we have experienced.  I know you have plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me hope and a future (Jer. 29:11).  I embrace that promise as much as I embrace You and your character.  And I know that this life is not about me or even about my family.  It’s all about you and your great purpose.  I love you, but most of all, I trust you.


Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up.

~ Psalm 71:20

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Monday, January 2, 2012

Adoption: Proceed with Caution

Disclaimer: Anthony and I put our thoughts down together for this post.  We are NOT against adoption disruption.  This post is not about that.  We completely understand that there are times when a family brings a child home and that child simply can no longer stay in their home due to him/her harming or sexually abusing other kids in the home.  We completely understand that.  This post is not about disruption!  Nor is this post about any particular family or situation...it is merely our own thoughts and convictions about adoption!

~~~~~~~

It’s no secret…I love adoption! I think adoption is God’s answer to the many, many children who have been abandoned through no fault of their own. God’s heart IS adoption. By His unfathomable grace He adopted each one of us first—and that very spirit of adoption is passed along to many of us who feel called to grow our families through the same blessing we so freely received.

But…

Adoption is not for everyone. Especially special-needs adoption. Quite honestly, I ache when I hear stories more and more frequently of people who travel to faraway lands to adopt their child—the one God “called” them to adopt—and find themselves absolutely devastated because that child is just not quite what they were anticipating or hoping for. They arrive on the other side of the world and meet a child who is either extremely delayed, desperately malnourished, unable to communicate, or has needs far more severe than the family was originally told. Dreams come crashing down and the family finds themselves in a predicament…is this really their child after all?

I’ve been wondering a lot recently…Are social workers preparing families enough for all the things that can go wrong? Are they not doing their jobs thoroughly? Or, do some families not prepare their hearts and their minds enough for all the many possibilities which may (or may not) go wrong when adopting an institutionalized child? Or, perhaps, do we just live in a society, in a day and age, where if something doesn’t quite work out the way we anticipated, well, we just abandon plans? We chalk it all up to the fact that we either really didn’t hear the Lord and this was all a big mistake, or this really was entirely God’s plan for us.

If we’re inclined to believe the former, we tell ourselves that the Lord wanted us to raise all this money, go through months and months of paperwork, then bring us to this place, only to finally have the revelation that this is actually not our child. Or it was God’s way of leading us to another child He wanted to show us.

It breaks my heart. These are children we’re talking about. It is not the same as going to the local animal shelter to find a new dog for the family, finding that pup and taking him home, only to find out that the sweet little guy who was in the kennel is not quite suitable for the family after all—so he gets returned. We’re talking about children here! Precious, amazing, wonderful children who desperately need someone to come for them…no matter what is “wrong” with them. Children who deserve unconditional love.

I must say that I completely, and I mean completely understand the thoughts, the feelings, the fears, and the concerns which overcome a person when you are handed a child who is so severely delayed.  I traveled to Ukraine alone last year to adopt our two girls who have Down syndrome.  I remember the day like it was yesterday--the day they shoved Hailee into my arms.  Nothing could have prepared me for a five year old who weighed less than fifteen pounds, had sores on her body from banging her head on the bars on her crib, smelled positively awful, could harldy even sit up due to being so severely drugged, made no eye contact whatsoever, and was nothing but a floppy ragdoll in my arms.  I was so afraid of what the future with this child looked like.  I had no idea how God was going to work it out.  But there was one thing I did know...she was our daughter!  God was big enough to handle the details.

I think that anyone considering adopting an institutionalized child MUST be prepared for every conceivable thing that can go wrong. Quite honestly, every family needs to go into the adoption with zero expectations. Go into it expecting the worst case scenario! That way there is little room for disappointment and horrible discouragement once you meet your child face to face. Pray and trust the Lord for the best—but know that it may just look very different to what you anticipate. Is God God? Is He not more than able to direct us to the child whom HE desires for our family—no matter what the circumstances?

No one can deny that there is a move of God in this country. The heart of adoption is spreading far and wide. The message of adoption is finally being preached in many churches, and hearts are being stirred across this great land to welcome a child into their homes through the blessing of adoption. It is so easy to look on a website overflowing with children who live in desperate situations and have your heart be broken into a million pieces. It is easy to get caught up in the emotion of it all—and possibly commit for wrong reasons. It is easy to fall in love with a sweet little face in a photo which is three years old and not be prepared for the fact that for the last year that child has been living in a hell hole and hardly even resembles the cute little cherub in the picture you hold in your hands.

This, dear friends, is the reality of the institutionalized child. Many of them live in conditions our hearts cannot comprehend. They lie in cribs day in and day out and their only source of stimulation is the bars on their crib which they bang their heads on. Some will even gnaw on the cribs they are forced to live in just for some sort of stimulation (think caged animals!). Most of them are drugged—not with some mild sedative to help them asleep at night—no, they are drugged with adult tranquilizers to make them sleep 24/7. Most of these children live on diets which consist of some form of liquid mush—they have no idea how to even chew food at five years or six years of age. The tiny confines of a crib and a horribly inadequate diet ensure that they are severely malnourished. Truly, most of these precious children quickly get reduced to mere breathing corpses in the horrendous environments they live in.

And sadly, many people are just not prepared for it. They arrive in their child’s orphanage and simply cannot deal with what is handed to them. In an instant their worlds come crashing down around them and drastic decisions get made. “This child requires a lifetime of care and we cannot give it to them.” Or, “We fear for our other children at home and cannot adopt this child.” Or, “This is not what we signed up for.”

I see it happening more and more. Children who have waited for years and years to find families and finally have that opportunity, only to get left behind after just a few days of meeting their potential family. We have one living in our home! Sadly for them, another family will have to commit and the adoption process will have to start all over again from scratch. Potentially the child can wait for several more years to be rescued! For many of these children who live in dire situations, they either get transferred to an adult mental asylum (around their fifth birthday) and become unadoptable, or many die from sheer neglect--they just cannot survive in the heinous conditions.  Or, as with our Haven, these children are left even more confused and traumatized--they had a family, and then they didn't.

Come on, body of Christ! Are we not called to do the tough things? Are we not commanded to care for the orphan? Did Jesus not teach us to do the things which the rest of the world does not feel “called” to do? Does the Lord not promise us that He will never leave us nor forsake us? And when He calls us…does He not equip us with everything we need to do the job with excellence? Why then do so many children come so close to being adopted—only to be left behind when the going gets tough?

I seriously just do not understand it. I think we have fallen into the world’s trap of living in such a ME society. It’s all about me, me, me. My life must be as comfortable as possible. My children must be as comfortable as possible. Nothing must disrupt the harmonious balance of my family life. Lord forbid God asks us to actually DO the hard things. I too fall into the trap of taking the easy way out sometimes, and I hate it.

Sometimes it is in the difficult things, in the trying times, and when we’re literally clinging onto Jesus by our fingernails that we see His love and His faithfulness like never before. Saying yes takes such enormous courage and strength, but the blessing which follows is truly indescribable. You just have to open the Bible and pick any place to read to know that it’s the truth. God ALWAYS equips His people. Always.

Sometimes it is when we rescue one of “the least of these”—a child discarded by the world, with no value or worth whatsoever, a life which is completely and utterly broken—that we see the living God face-to-face. It’s in that precious child that his glory shines through. How often we miss out on the blessing!

Please, I’m begging anyone in the process of adopting or considering an adoption...have zero expectations! Please know what you’re getting into BEFORE you commit.  Pray, seek wise counsel, read as much as you can about adoption, get advice, and pray some more before you say yes. And then go into the adoption trusting the Lord with all your heart (and not leaning on your own understanding)—but be prepared for anything which awaits you on the other side. Take any information you are given from their country with a grain of salt—it means nothing (and is very often completely inaccurate). Know that He has called you to adopt YOUR child and never waiver in your faith that He is more than able to help you face any challenge which awaits you.

If you’re looking for the “perfect” child, do not adopt! There is no such thing. Just as we are never, ever assured of having a completely healthy and “normal” child by birth, so adoption can be filled with many unknowns. You just never know what is waiting for you when you finally walk into the orphanage to meet your child for the first time…but your God in heaven does! He…does…not…make…mistakes! And that has to be good enough.

Open the eyes of your hearts.

Let your yes be yes! 

We can honestly say from our own experiences in adopting SEVERELY delayed children that taking a chance on these children is so, so worth it!  They will astound you, amaze you.  They just need someone to give them a chance at LIFE.
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