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Monday, November 7, 2011

.Question from a Reader.

I had a comment left by a reader on my previous post. The comment really made me think and evaluate some things. I had some spare time this morning (My two little boys are sick - again. So Jim took Cadi to her Classical Conversations this morning - again. Scotty is the worst. His asthma and allergies are making it impossible for him to sleep because he cannot breathe. So that is weakening his little immune system, and he is miserable. If you would, please pray for my little men.), and I am snuggled between two little boys on my couch watching "Sesame Street". I decided to print the comment/question here, and then answer to the best of my ability. I have gotten several of these kinds of questions privately in emails in the past, and I feel as if I should address this publicly now. Would you please give me grace? I am nervous to publish this. I have had a lot on my heart this week to write about, but I have been very hesitant to write anything for fear that I am misunderstood. I wish God would just wipe out fear of man from my life. Pray for me?


So I have a question for you. You talk so much about Ethiopia and serving the poor there and caring for the orphans there and how it's hard for you because they are so far away that you can't BE there to get your hands dirty and make a difference. But what about where you ARE??? No matter where you live, there are the poor and the hungry and orphans and homeless right in your backyard. Do you think that these are any less deserving of your time and love and efforts as those in Ethiopia? I know that you have a passion for Ethiopia and maybe one day you will be able to go back and make a difference. But right now God has you HERE, and you could make a big difference here. Maybe you guys do do ministry with the poor in here in America abut you just dont write about it. Is this the case? What about the Orphans here? What about opening up your home to foster kids? They are Orphans just like your Jamsey was. And they are HERE, where you can gt to them and make a huge difference in their lives Maybe God has you here right now so you can make a difference HERE? Why just Ethiopia?

First let me state, which I am sure is very evident if you have read this blog at all, that I am imperfect and sinful. I fail every single day, as a mommy, a wife, a homemaker, a friend, a pastor's wife, a blogger etc. I am despicable, except for the grace of God.

I never asked for Ethiopia. I never would have even considered going there on my own. I like safe and comfortable. I do not like to stand out. I like to blend in, and just be like everyone else around me. I do not like standing up for what I believe in. I do not like talking about what God is doing in my life. I like privacy, and I have been a slave to complacency, to apathy, and to masquerading my Christian life. To write this blog is not a comfortable thing for me. To expose my life, my thoughts, my family is not something that I always enjoy, but I felt the Spirit drawing me here to share parts of myself in order that God would get the glory. I think that believers have lived in secrecy for a long time - me included - and God was calling me out of that and into transparency, which makes me vulnerable to criticism.

In and of myself - in my sinful flesh - I never would have considered adopting. I especially never would have chosen to adopt a child a world away with potential terrifying diseases, who looked nothing like us, with no promise that he would ever love us or attach to us. With no guarantee that adopting a child from a third world country would not negatively impact my birth children. That is scary, and I don't really do scary. I was content with my two blond haired, blued eyed children, and my comfortable life. I am selfish and fearful. I am nothing left on my own. But God, in His infinite wisdom stepped into my life and pulled the carpet out from under me. He pushed me off my ledge of comfortableness - I had been happy just living life here, surrounded by friends I could relate to and marginally living for Jesus (And please do not misunderstand my words. I am most definitely not saying that every Christian who lives in America is only marginally living for Jesus. All I am saying is that I was.) God had a different plan for our lives. He pointed us to Ethiopia and our Jamesy, something not very relatable to the life we once lived. Something so odd and unexpected. I know that God is sovereign, and that Jamesy being in our family was not a mistake, but Jamesy is not more special than any other child - here or there - orphaned or not. I know now, though, that in order for me to really get what it meant to follow Jesus and to sacrifice out of the overflow of what He had done for me, I had to go all the way to Ethiopia.

I cannot really explain what Ethiopia did for me and to me. It shattered my heart for things that shatter the heart of God. But let me be honest. As much as I love Ethiopia and talk/write about Ethiopia, it's not really about Ethiopia. God could have shattered my heart right here in America, but He chose not to and He used Ethiopia to shake me out of my complacency. Perhaps I was too hard, too stubborn, too selfish to see here. So He had to do something really extreme in my life. God had to take me all the way across the ocean before I really "got it". I have an attachment to Ethiopia simply because that is where God first opened my eyes to the truth of the gospel, to what He requires of His followers, to a world very different than my own. I do not have a heart for Ethiopia because I think the people there are better or more deserving of the love of Jesus than people here or anywhere else are.

I know that because of my attachment to Ethiopia, I have to be very, very careful that I do not make Ethiopia my idol. Honestly, I have failed at this at times. Please forgive me for times that you have read that into my words here. God is refining me, and showing me areas of sin in my life. He is helping me to daily overcome these areas and to surrender to His heart. Yes, I have begged and screamed at God to just send our family over to Ethiopia - both Jim and I have. We have questioned whether here is really where God desires us; sometimes Ethiopia seems easier than living here. It's that old flesh springing up again, longing for the comfortable and easy (not that living in a third world country really would be. That is my sinful flesh deceiving me - the grass is always greener....) Yes, I have become so disenchanted with America and her ideals, that is not a secret. Part of it is because I see my old self here. I see so much complacency and apathy in the American church among believers, and I am terrified that I am going to get sucked right back into its clutches. There are so many days when I desire to just get sucked back in. I don't like not fitting in. It hurts. I do not want to forget what Ethiopia has taught me, though. And really I do not want to go back to who I once was. I just sometimes wish this was easier and more accepted - I am human, I am weak, I am a sinner.

Jim and I have been praying and looking for ways to serve the poor, the needy, orphans and windows "in our own backyard" since we came home from Ethiopia. We had failed in this area for far too long. My blog is only a small glimpse of our life, what I choose to share, what I feel led by the Spirit to write - it is not an accurate reflection of our whole life. Some things do not make the blog, and I guess how we are serving here in America has not. I don't really want to make my blog a list of things that we are doing. I don't want to fall into the temptation where our family can ever be exalted, I want the glory to be God's. Having said that, maybe I have been misleading on my blog, actually I guess that I have because of this question and others. We are doing stuff here, some of the things include our family gathering clothing, food, toys, bedding, etc for families in our area that were devastated by a horrendous flood this fall, that never made the blog. We are also right this very moment pursuing some domestic opportunities, but we are just not ready to share publicly about these, and we support homeless people in our area, as well as donate items to our church's community care program for needy people in our area. But even typing this makes me feel funny, and like I am saying look at us, and what we have done. Please, I am not saying that.

I guess I write about Ethiopia, because we are not there doing anything, so I do not feel as if that comes across as bragging. Plus I always feel as if we can be doing so much more, so I write about those feelings. Blogs are funny things. Sometimes it is hard to decipher motives behind blog posts, and it is impossible to discern hearts - only God can discern hearts (Hebrews 4:12).

I am passionate about Ethiopia for the reasons I mentioned above, but for now, God has placed our family right here, and we desire to be used of God, to be the hands and feet of Jesus right here everyday. We will also continue to seek out ways to be used abroad, because we feel God has called us to do both - neither is more important than the other. I ask forgiveness for making some think that I was saying Ethiopia is.

I welcome questions. I hope I answered some of yours.

How do you balance serving God as a family and knowing where and how to serve Him?


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