Archives for November 2013

Facebook Piety

There is something about the ease of internet communication that is really… dangerous.  In seconds I can share a brilliant article written by some other person and get a dozen “likes” for his work.  I can receive compliments and comments on the masterpiece written by this person whom I don’t know and will never meet, and all by saying “I totally agree with this.”

Now it’s not exactly pure plagerism, but doesn’t it make you feel smarter when people affirm your linked articles… almost as if you had done the work of researching and writing on the issue yourself?  Instantaneously we become informed, vindicated, victorious activists for a worthy and noble cause… that we didn’t particularly know existed five minutes prior.

Or think of how simple it is to jump on the unexpecting comment of a total stranger that we found on our friend’s post while scrolling through our news feed.  Aha!  We say to ourselves, that person is utterly wrong on this and I must correct them in the swiftest and surest of ways!  How often do we do this before asking sincerely, “That is an interesting perspective.  How did you come about it?”  Or, “Do tell me more about why you think ______.”  If we do not know to who we are talking, how can we assure ourselves we are not breaking a bruised reed or offending a weaker brother?  How can we know to speak gently or firmly, to give law or grace?  Are they ignorant or belligerent?  It’s easy to think we know from the three sentences we just read… their intonation and tone and background seem obvious to us.  But their reality may be totally different than our perception.

Not to mention our cultural addiction to instantaneous gratification.  Have online friendships without even bothering to get out of your pajamas and go on a play date!  Make sure everyone knows exactly how you feel without marching down the street with a sign or getting involved in your local community!  Instantly tell the world exactly how you feel and get gobs of sympathy thrown at you from every direction.

Now… I am certainly not putting the best construction on our Facebook activity, and I’m sure most of us are not consciously posting in order to garner attention to ourselves or because we feel the need to be superior and find others to put down whenever the opportunity arises.  BUT are we doing the exact opposite of that?  How intentionally gentle, loving and gracious are we when we go online?  How much of our activity is reactionary rather than proactive?  How often do we take the time to sit and think through our next post or comment and check our motives and consider the unintended consequences?  When we post are we posting for the sake of others… or are we mainly just thinking about ourselves, our interests, our needs, our hurts?

As Christians we believe that sin is actually a turning in on oneself.  It is the doing of something for one’s own sake.  We are to live for God and for others.  We are to be other focused, focused on how to bless, care for, help, encourage, strengthen, admonish, teach and lift up the people around us.  But Facebook… Facebook was created for you.  For self gratification and for surrounding yourself with those things that you like and for quenching that thirst for attention.  Not only does it tempt us to concentrate on ourselves, but it goads us into trying to make everyone else look at us and focus on us too.

It’s time for our Facebook addicted generation to own up to the reality.

Facebook is a spiritually dangerous place to be.

I have considered many times removing Facebook from my life, but as one person put it, Facebook has really become a part of the infrastructure of our society.  There is so much that you simply do not have access to without Facebook.  And not just frivolous things either, but important things, like people and ministry opportunities.  Support and encouragement from those who you have no contact with otherwise.  Networking that provides both knowledge and teaching opportunities.  Etc… etc…

But enough is enough.  I have realized that if Facebook needs to stay in my life, we need to set some ground rules.

Facebook might be a mine field, but there are ways I can diffuse those mines and avoid them.  I can’t be perfect, but I don’t have to succumb to every spiritual pitfall that comes my way.  Being aware of the danger and taking responsibility for avoiding that danger is half the battle.  And then, at least, when we fail we can have the presence of mind to ask forgiveness, repent and receive grace.

With all these things in mind, I have come up with a new model of using Facebook for myself.  It is tailored to my needs and the needs of our family, but I would encourage you to think through your relationship to Facebook and social networking and perhaps come up with guidelines for yourself.  Every generation has particular pitfalls to avoid, it would be wise of us to attend to our own.  A little discipline can go a long way.

Dalas’ Facebook Guidelines

Rule 1: Only log on to Facebook if there is something I need to do there.

One pitfall of Facebook is the ease of access.  Since I struggle with that urge to just “check stuff really quick” a dozen times throughout the day, I am going to make the rule that I can only log in to Facebook if there is a specific task I need to accomplish there, and not just to peruse and waste time or get into trouble.  To help me, I am going to set up an online journal with a list of all the online tasks I have to do each day.  When I sit down at the computer, I do those things first, and if I have time I can maybe scroll through my news feed once.  As an additional aid I will be disallowing my browser to automatically sign in to Facebook.  Instead I will need to *gasp* consciously type in my username and password.  One click makes it too easy to just log on without thinking.

Rule 2: Do not post or comment unless I have prayed about it first.

Remember the instant gratification problem?  No longer am I just going to type up whatever feels good in the moment and send it without praying and thinking through the repercussions.  Words can’t be taken back, sure you can delete them, but they might leave permanent scars.  You can’t delete impressions that you make on others.  If there is something I need or want to post I am going to step away from the computer first and take at least fifteen minutes to think and pray on the matter before returning to type up a thread or a response.  If I have to pray about my words for fifteen minutes before I write them, I foresee two things happening: I will write less.  And what I do write will be better.

Rule 3: Use Facebook for other people.

If it were just my wants and needs, I would get rid of Facebook.  But I keep telling myself I am here because it helps me to serve others.  If this is actually true, I need to start using Facebook with that in mind.  I can’t get Facebook out of my life, but I can get rid of the selfishness that Facebook has fostered in me.  Before I sit down to post or do anything on Facebook I am going to ask myself why I am posting.  What is my motivation?  How will this help someone else?  Who am I hoping to help and why?  Is there a more helpful or constructive way I can put this so that those I am wanting to serve will get more out of it?  Am I posting this just because of my own feelings?  Am I writing this to vindicate or justify myself in front of others?  These are the mental exercises I will go through in the praying and considering phase before I post.  If something needs to be adjusted in my heart or in my post, I will do that before clicking the enter key.

Rule 4: Follow the leader.

I am a strong believer in Biblical roles.  Jake is the head of our household, and with that position comes both respect and responsibility.  His job is to be the public face of our household, the responsibility of preserving the reputation of our family name rests on his shoulders.  And since he is in ministry, that task is even more crucial.  So when I know that something I want to say online might not be something my husband would have me say (and trust me I usually do know…) I need to clear it with him first.  I have a really hard time submitting to him on this, and several times I have adopted the “better to ask forgiveness than permission” stance.  I will post it, knowing he won’t like it…

This is a reprehensible sin of mine.  And it needs to stop.  There is nothing that I need to post to Facebook that is more important than respecting the will of the authority that God has placed in my life, namely my husband.  I am called first to help and serve him, and any service to others online is a distant second to that.  He is a much better judge of these kinds of things than I am anyway.  I am blessed to have him.  So, if I am going to be posting something potentially controversial, I will clear it with my head first.  And I would encourage you ladies to do likewise.  (If you are underage, make sure you follow your parents’ authority for your Facebook usage.)

I know I won’t be perfect.

But it’s a start.

Growing Up in Pictures

I remember when I was pregnant with Evangeline and I thought that I must  be the worst mother in the world.  I didn’t feel a particularly strong connection with her before she was born and it took some effort for me to consciously think of her and build that love.  And she was growing inside of me!  Sometimes this adoption has been the same way.  I find myself emotionally disconnecting from the who and focusing on the what.  Getting the next paper notarized, mailing things, fundraising, scheduling home study appointments and physicals, etc.

There is certainly enough busy work in adoption that it is easy to get yourself buried in all the immediate details to escape from some of the more painful realities of the situation.  That’s not necessarily helpful or healthy though, especially when it prevents you from praying for your child or from blogging about the adoption because that would mean you need to confront what’s in front of you.  But it’s hard to pray for him, and it’s hard to even blog updates or talk about how our process is going.  It’s just harder than I ever knew it would be.

I always thought I would be one of those adopting moms who blogged constantly about all the little details of our adoption, who prayed multiple times a day until he was in our arms, who was always lost in whatever pictures or video we might be able to see of him.  But I’m not doing any of those things… I am avoiding them.  It’s usually not a conscious avoidance, but I was looking at some of his pictures today in preparing our November newsletter… and I realized how long it had been since I’ve looked at them.  I even forgot we had a few of them.  It’s been months since I’ve watched his video.  It’s too painful.

We have pictures from about four different times over the course of a few years.

He has grown so much.

Here is the earliest picture we have of him…

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Every time I look at it my heart breaks all over again.  All I see is “Where are you mama?” etched all over his face.  He is so little here.

The next picture we have is after he had been at his new orphanage for some time.  There is a little more life in him…

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And then he gets a little older…

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And finally those chubby baby cheeks are gone altogether…

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It is painful to watch your child grow up in pictures.

And though I am thankful to have them, most days I simply cannot look at them.

I should have been the one playing with him on the floor and showing him toys.

I should have been the one taking pictures and making him smile.

I should have been the one tickling him.

It should have been me there… but it wasn’t and it isn’t.

How I cannot wait for that day that it will be me.

P.S. – Please help us bring our boy home!  If you haven’t yet, check out our current fundraisers:

Juri’s Birthday Party

November Auction for Juri

Juri’s Christmas Storefront

The Battle Plan

Are ya’ll ready for this?  Yesterday was my Battle Cry for Sutter.  Today we’re getting to the Battle Plan.

Sutter has until February to find a family.  He will be turning 16 then and will lose his chance to be adopted.

Let’s not cut it that close folks.

My goal is a family for him by Christmas.  Let’s make this happen.  My Battle Plan includes several strategic moves and I need YOU to be my army and make it happen!  This post will be updated frequently with where we are at in our plan and the progress we make, so keep it bookmarked for future reference!

STRATEGIC MOVE 1: PRAY

God loves Sutter more than I do, more than you do and more than anyone ever could.  The absolute best thing we can do for Sutter is to pray for him.  I need 16 prayer warriors to commit to praying for Sutter until his family is found.  Below is a list of the prayer warriors we have already and the ones we still need!  I am hoping that we can cover this boy and the family who has not found him yet with prayer throughout the day.  If you pick a slot you commit to praying for Sutter at least once every day during the day, preferrably within the time frame listed.  I have two overnight slots available for those night owls, people who wake up frequently at night to pray or friends in other time zones who can cover those hours.  This list will be updated as we get new warriors in!

Morning Warriors (5am-10am)
1. Taken!
2.
3.
4.
5.

Afternoon Warriors (10am-3pm)
6. Taken!
7. Taken!
8. Taken!
9.

Evening Warriors (3pm-10pm)
10. Taken!
11. Taken!
12. Taken!
13.
14.

Overnight Warriors (10pm-5am)
15. Taken!
16.

STRATEGIC MOVE 2: ADVOCATE

Other than praying this is quite possibly the most pivotal part of our strategy.  We must advocate for Sutter or his family may never find him.  I need sixteen people to join me in advocating for this child!  Our mission is to introduce him to as many people as possible as soon as possible.  My strategy for this is Letter Carrying (or as my husband lovingly called it, guerrilla warfare).  I need sixteen (or more!) volunteers to sign up for this task.  I will send you a PDF file letter with Sutter’s picture, story and a way for them to get more information on how to help.  Print off as many as you think you might use, fold them and seal them with a note on the outside for whoever is likely to read it (Ex: “Dear Christmas Shopper” if you are at a store or “Dear Reader” if you leave them in a library).  Place them in strategic places around your town and pray that God would soften the recipient’s heart to pray, advocate, give share or adopt!

We still need THIRTEEN more Letter Carriers!!

STRATEGIC MOVE 3: SHARE

Along with advocating independantly, you can also advocate through sharing.  It’s very easy!  My goal is to have (you guessed it!) 16 shares on each post I write for Sutter through the Christmas season.  I will update this with a list of all my posts for Sutter.  Please share each one and check back regularly to make sure you get them all!  16 shares per post would be FANTASTIC in helping me to get the word out and encouraging some more participation.  Please share on Facebook, Twitter, through email or your own blog and let me know so I can update numbers!  Below I will list all current posts:

1. Battle Cry: Shares so far…. THREE
2. The Battle Plan: Shares so far… SIX

STRATEGIC MOVE 4: GIVE

Yes give!  Giving to Sutter’s tax deductible grant fund does a few great things.  After his family sees him for the first time, one of their first reactions might be “How can we possibly afford to adopt?”  If he has a large grant fund that diminishes some of the fear for the family of taking that leap of faith.  It shows them not only that a part of his adoption has already been paid for but also that there are other people out there that want to see him come home and will likely help along the way.

Second, if we reach our Angel Tree goal of raising $1,000, Sutter will be moved up to the next level of Moving Mountains on the Reece’s Rainbow advocacy site.  This gives him a huge bump in visibility, which could help his family see him!  And last but not least, a larger grant means less time fundraising and the ability for his family to move quickly through the process once they commit.  This is a huge blessing, especially for Sutter who has already spent the first sixteen years of his life alone and has so much time to make up for!

As the Lord leads, please go to this link to make your tax deductible gift to Sutter: http://reecesrainbow.org/52642/sutter

If you give a gift of $35.00 or more, Reece’s Rainbow will send you a lovely ornament for your Christmas tree.  You can see the details for that HERE.

In addition, my husband and I have decided to tithe 10% of all the donations we get from Juri’s Birthday Party Fundraiser to Sutter’s grant from now until the end of the year.  If we meet our fundraising goal we can put an extra $2,000 in Sutter’s account!  Please check it out! 

I have another fundraiser coming up the pipe as well so stay tuned!!

STRATEGIC MOVE 5: ADOPT

We don’t need sixteen… we just need one.  Sutter needs one Mommy and one Daddy.

Sutter could be your son.  God has a family for this boy.  Is it you?

Sutter

 

Battle Cry

I saw a picture on Facebook recently that said “Do for 1 what you wish you could do for 100.”  This rings true for me in this stage of my life.  There is so much ministry to be done, so many hurting people to comfort, so many hungry to feed, so many lonely to bring into families.  People think I am joking when I say that I wish I could  be approved to adopt a dozen children or when I ask people to come to Eastern Europe with me and take home some of the precious ones that are still waiting.

They think I am joking.

Dear friends, neither are these statements a joke nor are they said with frivolity.  The lives of many precious people are hanging in the balance.  This is no joking matter.

I want desperately to save the world, but that is not my vocation.  My vocation is limited to not a hundred, not a dozen but just one.  God has called me to focus on just one.  And so we are.  We have taken this leap of faith and we are racing to the finish line to rescue (Yes.  That is the right word.) our dear boy.  God is stretching us in this process in so many ways, but perhaps one of the most painful is the soft refrain that repeats in my mind “You cannot save them all.”

There are so many I love and so many that I can do nothing but entrust to God’s care.  But that is not true for Juri.  I can do more for him, and I will.  I will fight for the life of this child whom I love as my own dear son.

And there is another boy who this refrain is also not true for.  There is a boy who I can help.

If you do not yet know Sutter, let me introduce you…

Sutter

Isn’t he handsome?  Meet Sutter.  Sutter is easy going and organized.  He is a really smart boy. He enjoys solving puzzles and can solve them really fast.  If you try to fool him, he will say “No” and start to laugh his contagious laugh.  He has a soft heart for the other children in his group and helps out, but sometimes he craves attention and tries to be at the center of it.  Doubtless a small glimpse that we have into his reality, the reality of a child with nothing and no one.  The reality of a child without a mother or a father.  The reality of an orphan.

Sutter has Cerebral palsy, just like our Juri, although his is more severe.  He had several operations as a child, which improved his movement for a time, but after a growth spurt he lost some of his mobility again. He tries to walk with crutches and he gets some physical therapy, but it is not the medical care his body needs.  With the right attention to his needs it is almost certain he would walk again.

But here’s the real crux of the issue.  Sutter has grown up with limbs that don’t cooperate, in a place where no one loves him like a family would love him.  He is living in an adult mental institution for no other reason than his legs don’t work and he doesn’t have access to the medical care that would help him make them work.  None of these, though, are Sutter’s greatest obstacle in life.  He has a far greater hurdle looming in the near future, and he has no power to clear it on his own.  Sutter has a chance at life – real life.  Life in a family, loved, wanted, learning, growing, succeeding… living.

He can do all of these things and do them well, but he can’t do them without you.  Yes YOU.

This is my battle cry.

Sutter needs a family.

Now.  Yesterday even.

This boy is turning sixteen in FEBRUARY of 2014.  He needs a family to commit to him BEFORE HIS BIRTHDAY or he will age out and never be adopted, never know a life outside of institutional walls.

I am fighting for Sutter, and I want you to fight for him too.  We cannot save them all, but we can make a difference for this one.  This one precious child.  This one that God would love to bless a family with.  I am Sutter’s Christmas Warrior.  That means that from now until December 31st it is my job to advocate, to fight, for Sutter.  I have committed to raise $1,000 for Sutter, and more importantly MY goal is to find him a family.  He needs a family.  I can’t be that family, but I can certainly try and find out who is.

This season is marked by thankfulness.  Everyone reading this is fed, clothed, sheltered, privileged.  Our cup is running over with blessing.  This  this Thanksgiving and Christmas, let your cup run over onto those who God has put in your path that are less fortunate.  God has put Sutter in my path, and now in yours.  Help me find his family.

There is a time to weep and to mourn over injustice.

And there is a time to stand up and fight against it.  This is the time to fight… for Sutter.

Come back tomorrow and join me as I lay out the battle plan.

It’s time to fight.

UPDATE: The Battle Plan

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